Title

Can we get together? Relationship initiation as a motive to seek help

Date of Completion

January 2003

Keywords

Psychology, Social

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Previous research on help seeking has focused on two motives, the motive to acquire assistance and the motive to protect the self. There is, however, a third motive that may compete with the other motives to influence help seeking, the motive to initiate a romantic relationship. The present research examined how the characteristics of the aid needed, the person in need, and the prospective helper affect these three motives of the person in need. Furthermore, it examined how these motives, in turn, affect help seeking. ^ Results of two experiments suggest that the self-threatening nature of help seeking influences how the motives to acquire assistance and to initiate a romantic relationship and, consequently, help-seeking behavior are affected by the desirability of prospective helper. When under low self-threat as when males needed help with a feminine task, males tended to seek more help from the desirable female than the less desirable female in part because they wanted to initiate a romantic relationship with her. In this situation, help seeking was also affected by the motive to acquire assistance in that males tended to seek more help from females whom they thought would be better able to help than from those whom they thought would be less able. In this case, these two motives did not conflict as some males tended to think that the desirable female would be better able to perform the feminine task than the less desirable female. ^ When under high self-threat as when males needed help with a masculine task, the motives conflicted. In this situation, males tended to seek more help from the less desirable female than the desirable female because they thought that she would be better able to help. In this situation, males also tended to seek more help from the desirable female than the less desirable female. This tendency, however, was not explained by the motive to initiate a romantic relationship. These results suggest that the motive to protect the self might influence help seeking by influencing people's willingness to admit, even to themselves, that they desire a romantic relationship with the prospective helper. ^