Helping is an important aspect of human prosocial behavior which has received increasing attention in recent years. However, need-of-help recognition, one socio-perceptual process preceding helping behavior, has not been investigated before. Possible reasons for this lack of attention to an important precondition of helping are difficulties in operationalization and a lack of appropriate, standardized stimulus material. Aenne Brielmann and Margarita Stolarova have therefore developed and tested a new set of visual stimuli for investigating need of help recognition. The research was funded by the Zukunftskolleg. The stimulus set has now been published in PLOS ONE, researchers are invited to use and expand the open-access NeoHelp Stimulus Set. The results of the first empirical data obtained with the NeoHelp have been published in Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental Psychology.
Margarita Stolarova and Aenne Brielmann from the Department of Psychology and the Zukunftskolleg at the University of Konstanz were able to demonstrate that the black-and-white comic drawings comprising the NeoHelp Stimulus Set are well suited for research with children of different ages: They are unambiguously identifiable in terms of content and category. The stimuli are also characterized by high perceptual similarity across content categories. These qualities make them well usable for psychophysiological and neuroimaging studies, as well as for behavioral studies. The first empirical investigation with 53 children from 5 to 13 years showed that the developmental trajectory of children's ability to recognize another person's need-of-help differs for girls and boys. We observed higher accuracy rates for younger girls compared to younger boys specifically in the need-of-help recognition tasks. For boys, an age-related performance improvement was found. Younger girls performed at a similarly high level as older girls and boys. No gender differences were observed for children aged over nine.
The two open-access publications are accessible here: