Front Page Titles (by Subject) Self-Esteem and Helpfulness - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2
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Self-Esteem and Helpfulness - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Self-Esteem and Helpfulness
“Motivational Maturity and Helping Behavior.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 6 (1977): 375–395.
Do approaches to personality development that stress self-worth inhibit generosity and helping behavior? Some psychologists contend that the self-esteem emphasis in the writings of Carl Rogers, Ayn Rand, and Abraham Maslow would probably produce motivations which militate against helping, altruistic, or social concerns [see L. Berkowitz, “The Self, Selfishness, and Altruism.” In J. Macauley and L. Berkowitz eds., Altruism and Helping Behavior. New York: Academic Press, 1970]. However, recent psychological studies indicate that higher levels of self-worth and autonomy characterize the more helpful person.
These test studies, establishing a positive correlation between self-esteem motivation and prosocial behavior, were conducted with college age students. Two groups of subjects were selected on the basis of Aronoff's measure of Maslow's hierarchy of motivational needs [see A. Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being. Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1968]. In ascending order, Maslow had postulated the following ranking and hierarchy of needs: basic physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging, esteem needs, need for cognitive understanding, and later developmental needs of self-actualization. Thus, according to Maslow, self-esteem needs rank higher in motivational maturity than the need for safety. Persons of high self-esteem, in Maslow's scheme, would be more socially responsible and caring for the fortunes of their fellow beings than would “safety-dominant” persons. Accordingly, in the studies, group 1 consisted of students who were significantly above the mean in their responses reflecting safety needs; group 2 was composed of students whose test scores manifested significantly high esteem needs. The students in group 2 also exhibited high self-worth as determined by Rosenberg's (1965) self-esteem measure.
The key study using these contrasted sets of students staged a situation in which a confederate of the experimenters pretended to have lost a contact lens in the presence of one of the student test subjects from the two control groups. The individual subjects were scored on the basis of both their time-delay in volunteering help to search for the lens and the duration of their help. As predicted, those persons of high self-esteem were most likely to offer assistance and to help for a longer time.
Such studies show how misplaced the suspicion is that individualistic personality traits make for unhelpful and antisocial behavior. These studies also confirm earlier studies which reported that one's characteristic needs also affect one's “gaming strategy.” Individuals' personalities may be primarily concerned with either belongingness, power, or achievement. People in these three categories behaved predictably different in the famous prisoner's dilemma which weighs competitive versus cooperative behavior and gaming strategy.