The Effects of Event Schema on Prosocial Behaviour in Australia and Malaysia: A Cross-Cultural Interpretation of Helping Behaviour

Ramley, Fazliyaton (2017) The Effects of Event Schema on Prosocial Behaviour in Australia and Malaysia: A Cross-Cultural Interpretation of Helping Behaviour. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This exploratory qualitative research study explores the effects of event schema on Australian prosocial behaviour in comparison to Malaysian. Through the dimension of individualistic and interdependent cultural orientation, the research examines Australian and Malaysian interpretations of helping behaviour (and non-helping) in diverse help-seeking events. Malaysian participants were undergraduate and graduate students attending universities in Malaysia as well as staff-members of diverse government bodies, while Australian participants were sourced from students or ex-students attending a university in Melbourne, Australia. This research study used unstructured in-depth conversational interview techniques as the data collection method. Participants were asked to respond to a series of oral vignettes ranging from non-serious situations to high cost emergencies. From the vignettes, participants were also asked to respond to an interview guide for greater detail of findings. Interviews were translated and transcribed, and data were analysed using an interpretive interactionist approach. Interviews were coded, and codes were evaluated, from which conceptual themes were extracted. The identified themes were organised into a structured analysis by clustering concepts together and establishing hierarchical relationships. In addition, a summary table of final themes was produced using participant quotations as illustration of the identified themes. Existing literature relating to the cross-cultural comparison of Australian and Malaysian interpretation of helping behaviour (or non-helping) has little to offer. First, the event schemas were conceptualised and structured as three primary schemas: personal, affective and behavioural. Both cultures stated characteristics of these schemas, and preference of reaction, from which similarities and differences in individual experience, containing motivation, thoughts, and emotion, emerged. Second, Australian and Malaysian have mostly identical contributors to helping behaviour, from which the concept of intrinsic moral value, empathic understanding, and emergency conditions surfaced. However, Australians identified explicit helping request as another reinforcement for helpfulness in emergency situations, whereas religious obedience is a central concern for Malaysians in deciding whether to help. Third, both Australians and Malaysians identified experience as an important and complex aspect in helping responses requiring holistic cognitive processing.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > FOR Classification > 1702 Cognitive Science
Current > Division/Research > College of Health and Biomedicine
Keywords helpfulness, help-seeking events, cognitive processes, cognition, social psychology, schemas, memories, past experiences, culture, social constructionism, phenomenology
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