Helping secondary victims: The influence of vividness and ‘transfer’ of sympathy

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Habil Otanga


The assertion that people are more likely to help identified as opposed to unidentified victims has not been investigated among secondary victims. This experimental study examined a) whether identifiability predicted changes in observers’ sympathy for a secondary victim; b) whether sympathy for a single primary victim is transferred as helping behaviour to a secondary victim and c) whether sympathy mediated the relationship between identifiability and helping behaviour. The sample comprised 130 undergraduate students at a university in Kenya. Their age ranged from 20 to 24 years (M = 22.09). Data were collected using a questionnaire and analysed using SPSS 25. Significant gender differences in helping, significant differences in sympathy and helping by identifiability were found. Sympathy significantly mediated the influence of identifiability on helping. Findings provide support for the role of identifiability and affective reactions in decision making concerning helping indirect victims. Future directions are discussed.

Keywords: Helping; identifiable victims; secondary victims; sympathy; vividness


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How to Cite
Otanga, H. (2019). Helping secondary victims: The influence of vividness and ‘transfer’ of sympathy. Global Journal of Psychology Research: New Trends and Issues, 9(2), 23–31.