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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2018, Vol. 50 Issue (11) : 1292-1302     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.01292
The influence of facial trustworthiness on helping behavior: The role of attachment type
Xiujuan WANG1,Na WANG1,Shangfeng HAN1,Shen LIU2(),Lin ZHANG1()
1 Department and Institute of Psychology, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315211, China
2 School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230022, China
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Researches on helping behaviors have always been a hot topic. Especially nowadays, helping others has become a risk-taking decision-making. Helping behavior is defined as an action that benefits others without return. In strange situations, the face, as the only clue to communicate or obtain information from, can affect people’s behaviors to a great extent. However, previous studies on helping behaviors did not take this issue into account, this study intended to combine situational factors and individual factors to comprehensively explore their impact on helping behaviors and to further investigate the moderating role of attachment security in the relationship between facial trustworthiness and helping behaviors.

This study included two experiments. Experiment 1 explored the effect of the characteristics of helpers’ trait attachment and facial trustworthiness by using a mixed experimental design of 2 (facial trustworthiness: high/low) × 3 (attachment type: security/anxiety/avoidance). Experiment 2 used a 2 (facial trustworthiness: high/low) × 2 (state-security attachment priming: yes/no) to investigate whether priming security attachment had safe influence as trait security attachment. During both experiments, subjects were presented randomly with faces of different facial trustworthiness. Participants selected their willingness to help others and donate money. The amount of money they donated represented their helping behaviors. These two indices were selected as dependent variables. A 7-point scale was used to measure help-willingness. The higher the score, the stronger of the willingness to help the seeker of participants. The amount of donation was between 0-100. The larger the number of donation, the more they were willing to contribute.

This study used SPSS 20.0 to analyze the data of the experiment, and the results verified the research hypotheses. The results of experiment 1 showed that there was a significant interaction between facial trustworthiness and the types of helpers’ attachment. The simple effect analysis showed that there were significant differences in the willingness and people’s behaviors with security attachments in both of the two facial trustworthiness, the willingness and money they input in high-facial trustworthiness were significantly higher than those in low-facial trustworthiness situation. There were also significant differences in the willingness and behaviors between low and high facial trustworthiness both anxious individuals and avoidance individuals. The willingness and behaviors to help in high-facial trustworthiness situation were significantly higher than those in low-facial trustworthiness situation. The results of experiment 2 on willingness and behaviors showed that there was a significant different in the interaction between facial trustworthiness and the types of helpers’ attachment. The simple effect analysis showed that there was a significant difference between the two facial trustworthiness situations for individuals of security attachment and a significant difference between the two facial trustworthiness situations for individuals of insecurity attachment, the willingness and helping behaviors in the high facial trustworthiness situation was higher significantly than low-facial trustworthiness situation. The different value in willingness and behavior in both experiment 1and experiment 2 under two facial trustworthiness situations for individuals of security attachment were significantly smaller than those for individuals of insecure attachment, indicating that attachment security to some extent had a regulatory role, it could buffer the risk-aided behavior to bring down.

This study has some significance. First of all, this study incorporated facial trustworthiness into helping behaviors, which provided a new way of researches of helping behaviors. Looking from the perspective of the face helped to distinguish the unfamiliar environment’s helping behaviors from the familiar environments. Second, the study found that individuals’ attachment types and the seeker’s face trustworthiness affects the helping behavior, indicating that the help-taking behaviors were the result of multiple factors, to remind the public to combine the help-seeking environment objectively and justly to see others’ behaviors. The media should also adopt a pragmatic attitude towards reports of people’s help behaviors so as to avoid reporting off the factual basis.

Keywords helping behaviors      helping willingness      facial trustworthiness      attachment security     
ZTFLH:  B849:C91  
Corresponding Authors: Shen LIU,Lin ZHANG     E-mail:;
Issue Date: 25 September 2018
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Xiujuan WANG
Shangfeng HAN
Shen LIU
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Xiujuan WANG,Na WANG,Shangfeng HAN, et al. The influence of facial trustworthiness on helping behavior: The role of attachment type[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(11): 1292-1302.
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助人行为 依恋类型 高面孔可信度 低面孔可信度
助人意愿 安全 5.38 ± 0.54 4.41 ± 0.39
焦虑 4.50 ± 0.38 2.30 ± 0.33
回避 3.96 ± 0.49 2.44 ± 0.30
捐助金额 安全 68.37 ± 5.99 61.67 ± 3.57
焦虑 53.44 ± 3.37 37.81 ± 4.09
回避 41.32 ± 5.26 27.95 ± 4.85
助人行为 启动条件 高面孔可信度 低面孔可信度
助人意愿 启动组 4.54 ± 0.58 4.52 ± 0.37
控制组 3.69 ± 0.42 3.34 ± 0.49
捐助金额 启动组 63.40 ± 6.99 60.23 ± 6.50
控制组 50.16 ± 7.08 40.71 ± 6.10
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[1] LI Caina; SUN Ying; TUO Rui; LIU Jia. The effects of attachment security on interpersonal trust: The moderating role of attachment anxiety[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(8): 989-1001.
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