Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Altruism, conservatism, friendship, helping behavior, ideology, individualism, meritocracy
Abstract Individualism operates as a dominant ideology in American society, so how does individualism pervade both people’s larger views on society as well as their dyadic relationships? Do world views about the value of hard work and if people deserve help permeate the private sphere in tangible ways? I propose a relationship between individualistic tendencies and the frequency with which individuals help their friends and family who are feeling depressed. I hypothesize that the more the respondent believes that those in need have to learn to take care of themselves, the less frequently they will help a relative, friend, or neighbor who is a bit down or depressed by talking to them. I also hypothesize that the more the respondent believes that people get ahead by their own hard work, the less frequently they will engage in this helping behavior. Finally, I hypothesize that the more conservative the respondent is, the less frequently they will engage in this helping behavior. I test the relationship between these typically conservative values and helping behavior using a sample of 828 respondents from the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) dataset, controlling for gender, race, age, and education. Results from bivariate and OLS regression analyses report that there is no statistically significant relationship between conservative values and helping behavior, so the hypotheses are not supported. Instead, two control variables impact the dependent variable. Gender has the strongest effect on the frequency with which one helps a relative, friend, or neighbor who is feeling depressed, followed by race. On average, women and people of color engage in more helping behavior.
Fantasia, Adele, "Is Friendship Political in the Land of Opportunity? How Conservative Values Affect Helping Behavior towards Friends" (2019). Sociology Senior Seminar Papers. 18.