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Helping and Help-Seeking

3. The Social Identity Approach to Helping

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about more recent social psychological research into helping. In particular, we consider how the social identity approach, made popular by the work of Tajfel and Turner, has served to highlight the importance of group memberships for helping behaviour. We discuss the concept of ‘identity salience’, the notion that different group identities become more important to us in different situations (e.g. our identity as a football fan may become ‘salient’ to us when we are surrounded by other football fans), and how this impacts our willingness to help those we consider to be part of our group and those we consider to be outsiders. Finally, we look at some recent research studies which have investigated this effect, including Drury (2009) which explored the positive effects of group membership on helping in the context of the July 2005 London bombings and Levine et al. (2005) which demonstrated that shifts in ingroup/outgroup boundaries have an important impact on who receives help.


In this course, Dr Juliet Wakefield (Nottingham Trent University) discusses the social psychology of helping and help-seeking. Module one provides a general introduction to the topics of helping and help-seeking, while the following modules look in more detail at the social psychological research that has been carried out in this area over the past six decades. In module two, we think about early research into helping behaviour with a particular focus on the case of Kitty Genovese and its influence on the development of Darley and Latané’s theory of the Bystander Effect. Module three considers later research into helping behaviour which was informed by Tajfel and Turner’s social identity approach. We then move on to think about help-seeking and help-receiving, focusing on the Threat to Self-Esteem Model in module four and the importance of group memberships for helping transactions in module five. Module six concludes the course with a summary of key points.


Juliet completed her PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Dundee in 2011. Her PhD research concerned the act of help-seeking, and investigated whether group members may use help-seeking as a tool to manage and enhance their group's image in the eyes of others. Juliet then spent four years as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Dundee, working on Professor Fabio Sani's ESRC-funded Health In Groups project. This project investigated the relationships between membership of social groups (family, community, sports groups, etc.) and health. Juliet joined NTU in August 2015. Juliet is a member of the Individuals, Identities, and Cultures research group. In general terms, Juliet's research interests lie within the domains of Social Identity Theory and Self Categorisation Theory, and the implications of group membership for people's everyday lives. This includes intergroup / intragroup helping and help-seeking, the impact of groups on health and well-being, gender identity, national identity, and online identities.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Wakefield, J. (2020, March 23). Helping and Help-Seeking - The Social Identity Approach to Helping [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Wakefield, Juliet. "Helping and Help-Seeking – The Social Identity Approach to Helping." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Mar 2020,

Image Credits

"Henri Tajfel", licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
”Football” vector created by freepik -

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