The helpers' tale : a phenomenological exploration of helping behaviors across cultural divides
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] The purpose of this Transcendental Phenomenological study was to describe the shared experiences of those who choose to help others (engage in helping behavior). It seems important to understand what the group characteristics are which motivate the persons who decide to help others on a regular basis; especially if they once held prejudicial attitudes towards a specific outgroup, or have been on the receiving end of prejudice expressed by another group or individual. Utilizing the Stevick-Collazzi-Keen qualitative method of analysis, the meaning of helping for a group of African American and White American individuals from a Midwestern state, was explored. By applying purposive sampling, those who engage in helping behavior as a significant and recurrent part of their personal and/or professional lives were selected. Based upon a total of 257 Significant Statements and 244 Meaning units, 35 Textual Descriptions emerged. These Textual Descriptions were further divided into 3 Major Themes: Help Requires, The Helper Experience and Help Is. It was found that individuals who engage in helping behavior tend to utilize perspective taking, have had strong models of cross-cultural prosocial behavior early in life, and who take the time and effort to feel empathy towards out-group members tend to be the most effective in their prosocial endeavors. Leaning how to sit with discomfort and uncertainty in cross-cultural situations also emerged as a strategy utilized by participants.
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