Do learners declining to seek help conform to rational principles?


Why do learners fail to seek help, when doing so would be beneficial? Principles of rational decision suggest that seeking help is not an optimal action if its costs are greater than its expected benefits. Accordingly, learners should be sensitive to three parameters when making the decision to seek help; the benefits of doing so, but also the probability of obtaining these benefits, as well as the intrinsic costs of seeking help. We report three experiments that pitted the financial, temporal, and social costs of help-seeking against its expected benefits. Participants were more likely to seek help when help came at no financial cost, but showed little sensitivity to other parameters. These findings contribute to identify low-priority interventions to improve help-seeking behaviour. Learners may not need reassurance that help will come if they ask, and that they will not waste time by seeking help.

Thinking and Reasoning
JF Bonnefon
JF Bonnefon
Behavioral Scientist