Research has shown that mobile phone conversations people have with close others fulfills the need for social affiliation which lowers concern for others and decreases helping behavior (Abraham, Pocheptsova, & Ferraro, 2012). It has not been determined however, if mobile phone conversations with remote others that are not known by the individual has similar effects. It is hypothesized that higher perceived helpfulness with remote, unknown students will predict a decreased intention to help others by volunteering at a homeless shelter.

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Remote Mobile Phone Contact and Prosocial Behavior in College Students

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Subjects will be college students currently enrolled in classes full time between the ages of 18 and 22 years. The study will use the research pool at the university which consists of undergraduates required to participate in research for credit. It will therefore be a convenience sample.

Subjects will use a cell phone provided by the experimenter to control for factors related to phone ownership such as SES. They will be given the number of a research confederate but told they will be talking to a student from a college several States away. Instructions will state they are to talk to the student for 10 minutes about adjusting to college life.

After the discussion, subjects will answer a Likert style question asking them how helpful they felt they had been on a scale of 1 to 5. They will also be told about a local homeless shelter needed volunteer and asked how willing they would be to volunteer on a 1 to 5 scale. Data will be examined using an R-squared regression analysis to determine if perceived helpfulness with the remote college student accounts for significant variance in willingness to help at the homeless shelter. These results would contribute to the field by adding more detailed knowledge about closeness of mobile phone contacts as it relates to intent to help others.

  • Abraham, A., Pocheptsova, A., & Ferraro, R. (2012). The effect of mobile phone use on prosocial behavior. Manuscript in preparation.