Socially Courageous Actions: A Consideration of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Benefits to the Actor and Others

By Jeffrey Perrin and Kelly Jankauskas.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Socially courageous actions involve confronting risk and acting on the behalf of others. Often times the decision to intervene is swayed by a cost-benefit analysis of action. This research investigates individual considerations of the types of benefits (intrinsic or extrinsic) and the recipient (actor or other) of benefits associated with social courageous actions. Participants read a vignette designed to illustrate an instance of gender discrimination manifested by unequal pay. In an open-ended question format respondents were asked to state the perceived benefits for carrying out each one of two options: directly contact the district manager (action) and staying uninvolved (inaction). We found that participants focused on extrinsic other based benefits when considering the actor’s decision to intervene on behalf of a co-worker. We speculate that these findings are due to a reliance on readily available concrete effects (e.g., job loss) rather than more abstract emotional outcomes (e.g., gratification).

Keywords: Socially Courageous Actions, Fear

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 8, Issue 2, October 2014, pp.87-97. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 373.488KB).

Dr. Jeffrey Perrin

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Psychology and Applied Therapies Division, Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Kelly Jankauskas

Student, Psychology and Applied Therapies Division, Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA