Gender difference in altruism : a psychological study of non-Jewish German Holocaust rescuers / Vicky L. Anderson
Includes bibliographical references (p. 289-299)
This comparative, qualitative study explored gender difference in altruism between 13 men and 27 women who were German rescuers of Jewish Holocaust victims. The research procedure was a content analysis of interviews with these 40 German rescuers, who had been previously selected for study by Drs. Samuel and Pearl Oliner, of the Altruistic Personality Project (1988), at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. Anecdotal results from these interviews had not been fully analyzed by the Oliners for gender difference and were qualitatively examined in this doctoral study. The purpose of the present research was to gain understanding about gender difference in altruism, in order to generate hypotheses and stimulate ideas for future research. Results from the present study show that twice as many women as men assisted Jews, and the ways in which altruism took place varied according to gender. Commitment to ethical principles of humane consideration was the main reason help was given, but it is hypothesized that the interpretation of these principles varied according to gender. Although for both genders, mothers were predominantly named as the most influential person, it is hypothesized that the idealized values of altruism were learned from the opposite-sex parent, and the actual skills needed to accomplish rescue work from the same-sex parent. It is hypothesized that women were socialized more than men towards altruism and relational experiences. The significance of relationships was found to be an important altruistic motivator and generator of empathy for both genders, but it was found that men were more prone than women to experience situational empathy. It is hypothesized that empathy elicited anger towards the Nazi aggressor in men, and sorrow for the victim in women. It is hypothesized that altruism affirmed rescuers' identities, values, and gender roles, which were experienced differently according to gender.
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