Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology


Persons who adhere to a religious faith or theology based upon the Bible value its teachings that call for responsiveness to the needs of others. However, belief often varies from behavior. Prior research (Darley & Batson, 1973, Batson, 1976, Batson & Gray, 1981, Batson & Ventis, 1982) has found that religious orientation consistently predicts differences in helping behavior. A particular disparity exists between quest oriented persons, who are typically responsive to the stated needs of others, and end oriented persons, whose responses seem more dependent upon an internal need to appear helpful. The present study hypothesized that such differences are based upon the social learning histories of persons of different religious orientations, and that training that incorporated social learning methods in its presentation would have an effect on helping behavior of such persons. To test that hypothesis, 56 seminarians were randomly assigned to two groups. One group was covertly trained in several aspects of helping behavior using a social learning format. The second group acted as a control. Subjects were videotaped in a vague emergency helping situation in which a "victim" declined any offers of help. Subjects were rated according to four variables: Interaction time (in seconds); types of verbal responses made; the victim's subjective perceptions of helpfulness and concern received; and behavioral responsiveness, a cumulative measure of subjects' behavioral responses. Only the victim's perception of concern received was significant in the expected direction. Other effects were minimal. While training does appear to have some effect on helping behavior, additional research is needed which examines the effects of more extensive training as well as the effect of training on the affective and attitudinal states of helpers.

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