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Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help, New Study Says

A survey of over 2,000 participants reveals that we often underestimate how willing—and happy—people are to help out.
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profile picture of Wyndi Kappes
Assistant Editor
Published
September 27, 2022
pregnant woman sitting on bed in baby's nursery room looking out window
Image: Alison Winterroth

If there’s something tried and true about parenting, it’s that you’ll always have plenty to do and often not enough time to do it. From running errands to picking up the kids and doing household chores, mom or dad could use a little help—but studies show many don’t reach out for it.

According to a recent survey, 1 in 3 moms report feeling stressed at least five days a week, but 67 percent feel like a burden when they reach out to their family to share their feelings, let alone ask for help. But a new study seeks to show parents (and people in general) that helping out isn’t seen as a burden to most people—in fact, they’re happy to step up to the plate.

The study, which was published in the journal Psychological Science last month, involved more than 2,000 people who participated in six small experiments designed to compare the perspectives of those asking for help with the perspectives of helpers.

Overwhelmingly the results showed that those needing help consistently underestimated others’ willingness to help. In a relatable example, during one experiment the subjects were told to ask a stranger to take their photo at a botanical garden. Despite many of the askers’ hesitance only four people out of 100 turned the favor down.

The study also showed that many askers underestimated how positive helpers would feel after helping and overestimated how inconvenienced helpers would feel. “We feel good making a positive difference in other people’s lives,” Xuan Zhao, a co-author of the study told the New York Times. “Helping makes people feel better.”

Despite the evidence that asking for a favor isn’t as big of an inconvenience as you think it might be, it can still be hard to admit that you need help in the first place. Remember to go easy on yourself and know that thousands of other parents are also trying to figure out how to make it all work. If you are looking for ways to feel better about reaching out, consider these pro tips on how to comfortably and confidently ask for help.

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