How do people help each other

Psychology: Why We Help Each Other

We just can't do some things well on our own. That's why we give each other a hand and help each other. At least most. But not always. And not everyone ...

Why do we help?

As long as we are little, helping is normal for us. This is what the developmental psychologist Joscha Kärtner from the University of Münster found out in tests with children aged 15 to 30 months. "One-year-old children naturally pick up the pen their mother dropped. Or they fetch a cup without grumbling and put it on the table when someone asks," he explains.

However, once we get out of our toddler shoes, things look different. If our parents, grandparents and teachers value that we are helpful and exemplify this, knowledge is deeply anchored and it goes without saying that we should stand by one another.

However, some people are brought up in such a way that they always put their needs first. They also help, but often for tactical reasons, according to the motto: If I give her a hand now, I won't have to carry my stuff alone the next time I move.

Whom do we help?

If we are indebted to a person, we are reluctant to refuse their request. In addition, there are a lot of thoughts in our heads when someone asks us for help, such as: Do I find the person nice? Do I feel able to bail her out?

"We are also more likely to support a person if we have the feeling that they cannot help their situation," says Joscha Kärtner. And then, of course, the willingness of the other person to help also plays a role: If our counterpart has shown himself to be "unhelpful" in the past, we are reluctant to give them a hand.

Do all people help the earth equally?

There are countries and cultures in which the question does not even arise of helping other people. "In large parts of India, for example, this is absolutely natural from an early age. It doesn't matter whether I owe someone something or not - helping is a duty," says Joscha Kärtner.