Envy in Response to Help: A Helping as Status Relations Model
Social exchange theory suggests that after receiving help, people experience gratitude and they reciprocate by helping the original help giver. However, it remains unclear whether people experience other emotions that drive positive reciprocation after receiving help. Building on helping as status relations framework, we suggest that when higher performers provide task-related help to lower performers, help recipients perceive that help givers have higher status, and respond to the help with envy. To rebalance the status relation, help recipients are motivated to reciprocate by helping the help giver. Results from three studies progressively support our predictions that help recipients respond with envy when they receive task-related help, but only toward higher performing help givers. Furthermore, envious help recipients who have higher internal locus of control are more likely to give reciprocal help. The findings support the helping as status relations model by demonstrating that envy plays a unique role, over and beyond gratitude.