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Social Loafing in the Refugee Crisis: Information about Existing Initiatives Decreases Willingness to Help
In light of the European refugee situation, we investigate how information about others’ support influences individuals’ willingness to help. When individuals see information about other people supporting refugees, they may either be influenced by a descriptive norm, and act accordingly. Alternatively, they may perceive that others are already doing the job, and thus engage in social loafing. In an experiment (N = 132), we tested these competing predictions. Specifically, participants were exposed to a map of Germany that either indicated many or few helping initiatives across the country. In a control group, no map was shown. Subsequently, participants were asked about their willingness to help. While there was no effect between the two map conditions, results revealed that participants reported lower willingness to help in both map conditions, compared with the control group. Thus, providing information about helping projects results in social loafing, jeopardizing widespread communication strategies to increase solidarity.