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New Study Reveals People Are More Willing to Help Than Expected

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Why Asking for Help Can Increase Your Chances of Getting It

The Power of Small Requests

According to a recent study published in Scientific Reports, people are much more likely to oblige those who ask for small favors than they are to ignore or reject them. The study, conducted in California, Australia, Ecuador, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, observed video recordings of everyday life in several different countries and found that when people signal for help, regardless of culture, they are often given it. In fact, people complied with small requests almost 80% of the time. This is seven times more often than they declined, and six times more often than they ignored them.

The Findings of the Study

The researchers analyzed more than 40 hours of video recordings involving about 350 participants. The study focused on "mundane prosocial interactions," such as passing someone a kitchen utensil or flicking a light switch on. In each interaction, the person either asked for assistance or was visibly struggling. These low-stakes calls for help were disproportionately honored, regardless of the country the people lived in. The average rate of rejection was only 10%, while the average rate of being ignored was 11%. Additionally, when someone did deny another help, 74% offered a reason.

The Universality of Helping Behavior

The study authors believe that this research demonstrates that, across cultures, people don't mind asking for help, and they also don't mind giving it. Cultural variation may come into play for special occasions and high-cost exchanges, but when focusing on the micro level of social interaction, cultural differences mostly disappear, and our species' tendency to give help when needed becomes universally visible.

Next time you find yourself in need of assistance, don't hesitate to ask for help. This study shows that people are generally willing to lend a hand when asked, regardless of cultural background. So, whether you need a small favor or are facing a challenge, reaching out for support can significantly increase your chances of receiving the help you need.

Hot Take: How Asking for Help Can Benefit a New Business

Unlocking the Power of Small Requests

For new businesses navigating the competitive landscape, asking for help can be a game-changer. The study mentioned earlier reveals that people are much more likely to respond positively to small favor requests. This finding presents an opportunity for new businesses to leverage this innate helpfulness in individuals. By identifying small, low-stakes tasks or requests where assistance can make a difference, entrepreneurs can tap into the willingness of others to lend a hand. Whether it's asking for feedback on a product prototype or seeking advice on market strategies, starting with small requests can establish a foundation for future collaborative relationships.

Gaining Support in the Entrepreneurial Journey

The universality of helping behavior across cultures also has implications for entrepreneurs. Assembling a support network is crucial for business success, and this study validates the notion that people generally don't mind being asked for help. Entrepreneurs should actively seek out mentors, advisors, and peers who can provide guidance and support. By reaching out, entrepreneurs can tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience available from those who have been through similar entrepreneurial journeys. Asking for help can contribute to business growth, profitability, and the avoidance of common pitfalls.

Fostering Collaborative Communities

In addition to individuals, new businesses can benefit from engaging with local communities or industry networks. The study's findings suggest that people are generally open to supporting others, regardless of cultural background. By actively participating in community events, industry conferences, or online forums, new business owners can seek assistance, collaboration, and even partnerships. Being part of a supportive network can provide access to resources, potential customers, and valuable connections that can accelerate business growth.


For new businesses, the act of requesting help can be a powerful tool. Whether it's capitalizing on individuals' willingness to assist with small favors, building a support network of mentors and advisors, or actively engaging with communities, asking for help can significantly impact the success and growth of a new venture. Embracing this notion and being proactive in seeking assistance can be a transformative approach for new businesses striving to navigate the challenging terrain of entrepreneurship.

Article First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/07/16/study-asking-for-help-people-are-more-likely-to-say-yes.html

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