A Simple Way that Others Become Twice as Likely to Help You(University of Pennsylvania et al., 2010)


The theme this time is how to get people to help.
If you take certain actions, the likelihood that others will help youincreases twice as much.
So, what kind of action should we take?
The answer is to give thanks.
Being grateful is something we all do on a daily basis, but it'sactually a very effective way to get help from others.
Based on a scientific paper, the following topics will be introduced.

  • How much more likely you are to get help from others if you givethanks to them.
  • Why giving thanks increases the likelihood that others will help you
  • Do people become kind to everyone when they are thanked?
  • In what situations does the effect of gratitude become more powerful?

How much more likely you are to get help from others if you givethanks to them.

In this article, I'll be presenting a study that investigated howpeople are affected when they are given thanks.
In this study, four experiments were conducted.
In the first study, 69 participants were asked to review a fictitiousstudent's job application letter and give feedback to thatstudent.
After the participants sent their feedback via email, half of theparticipants received a thank you response from that student, and theother half didn't receive.
The participants were then asked by that student to review another jobapplication as well.
As a result, 32% of participants who were not thanked and 66% of thosewho were thanked also assisted with a second request.
In other words, by expressing your gratitude, you are twice as likelyto get help from people.

Why giving thanks increases the likelihood that others will help you

The researchers investigated why people are more likely to cooperateagain when they are thanked.
They surveyed the participants who were thanked.
As the result, it is found that the feeling of social worth helpspeople get over factors that stop us helping.
Many participants weren't sure if their help had helped the otherperson until they were thanked.
In other words, it is only when you know you are appreciated, whichmakes you feel comfortable and able to continue helping.

Letting the person who helped you know that you appreciate the help isalso important in terms of overcoming the bystander effect.
(See here for more on the bystander effect.)
Researchers of the bystander effect suggest that in order for a personto help someone, the following five conditions must be met

  1. The helper notices the event occurring
  2. The helper interprets the event occurring as an emergency
  3. The helper feels a sense of responsibility or mission for the eventsthat are occurring
  4. The helpers perceive themselves as having the skills and ability toturn around the events that are occurring
  5. The helpers voluntarily choose to help someone, rather than beingforced to do so by someone

In other words, you can fulfill the fourth condition by giving thanksto the person who helped you.
It would also be effective indirectly for the third and fifth conditions.
Incidentally, there are other effective ways to overcome the bystandereffect, such as the following

  • Having a personal relationship with a helper
  • Making a helper empathize with you

Do people become kind to everyone when they are thanked?

Next, I will introduce the second experiment.
The second experiment investigated whether people who are given thanksby someone are also more likely to help others besides the person whothanked them.
After the first experiment, the participants received a similarrequest from another person.
The percentage of people who received that request was as follows,respectively.

  • Participants who were not thanked in the first experiment: 25%
  • Participants who were thanked for the first experiment: 55%

That is, it turns out that the effect of gratitude is passed on fromone person who actually thanked you to another person.
It is also found that participants were twice as likely to accept arequest if they were appreciated before it was asked for.

In what situations does the effect of gratitude become more powerful?

While the first and second experiments were conducted by email, thethird and fourth experiments were face-to-face.
As a result, even face-to-face, participants who were given thankswere more likely to help others.
Interestingly, however, the effect of gratitude was about twice asgreat in the experiment using email as in the face-to-faceexperiment.
This shows that the effects of gratitude vary from situation to situation.
An important difference in these situations is that for participants,email provides less information about the requester thanface-to-face.
People pay more attention to what the other person says and does whenthey have less information about him.
Therefore, the participants were worried if they had been able to helpthe other person.
The effect of gratitude came into play more powerfully because theclient thanked them in such a situation.
So, if the others who helps you doesn't know you very well, it's morelikely that they will also accept your next request if you thankthem.
When you work remotely, for example, it's better to give thanks to thepeople you work with than when you work face-to-face.

Another study has shown that men and women have differentdecision-making processes on whether to help people or not.
It is usually said that the choice of whether or not to offer help isdependent on three factors

  • Rational judgment
  • Emotional judgment
  • The moral beliefs that the person has

This study investigated how these three motivational factorsinteracted with each other.
An experiment was conducted with 264 students and the results showedas follows

  • Emotions put a bias on rational judgment.
  • This effect is stronger in women than in men.
  • Women try to mitigate their emotional biases by the moral beliefs thatthey hold.

In short, the results show that men and women have differentdecision-making processes on whether to help or not.
Men try to make decisions about whether or not to help others asrationally as possible, whereas women seem to make decisions based ontheir emotions and moral beliefs as well.
Therefore, if you adjust the way you say thank you according to whatfactors the person is judging based on, the person is more likely tohelp you again.

Referenced Scientific Papers

Quote SourceGrant & Gino, 2010
Research InstituteUniversity of Pennsylvania et al.
Published JournalPersonality and Social Psychology
Year The Study Was Published2010
Quote SourceWan et al., 2018
Research InstituteZhejiang Normal University et al.
Year The Study Was Published2018


  • If you give thanks, you are twice as likely to be helped again.
  • When you thank someone for helping you, it's important to let him knowthat his help has been helpful to you.
  • The effect of gratitude is not only on the person who actually gavethanks, but also on another person.
  • If you change the way you give thanks to suit the person or situation,you are more likely to be helped again.
    • If the person helping you doesn't know you well, it's better toexpress your gratitude in a more polite way.
    • If the person helping you is a man, it's better to thank him logically.
    • If the person helping you is a woman, it's better to be emotionallygrateful.
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