Characteristics of Natural Helpers

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2004-10-26

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Abstract

Research on natural helping to date has been lacking in theoretical foundations and simple methods of identifying natural helpers. The current study was designed to test a theory-based measure of natural helping and explore how individuals cluster on measures evaluating proposed theoretical characteristics of natural helpers. Participants were 168 undergraduates who completed a series of self-report measures related to natural helping (e.g. empathy, social support, interpersonal strengths) and were rated by two volunteer clients on a measure of therapy process and outcome. Cluster analysis revealed five clusters, including one of natural helpers who obtained above average client ratings and had an above average composite score of all natural helping measures. Natural helpfulness of each cluster as well as validity, reliability, and utility of the theory-based measure of natural helping are discussed. Finally, the initial theoretical propositions regarding natural helping are revised and implications for future research are addressed.

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