The article advances a methodological proposal aimed at studying the benevolent over-helping, a relevant but under-studied socio-psychological phenomenon. The first part briefly reviews studies on helping relations. Only at the end of the Seventies researchers shifted their attention from the analysis of helping behaviours to receivers’ psychology. Those innovative studies showed how help may become a threatening and sometimes detrimental event for receivers, both from a social and a psychological point of view. Starting from this theoretical shift, a new field of study on implicit ambivalences of helping relations developed. According to this new theoretical framework, the second part of the article proposes a detailed new methodology, aimed at observing the understudied phenomenon of benevolent over-helping. During a simulation game, an interactive situation is set, where a relevant adult (e.g. their teachers or parents) sides the child when solving three different problems, growing more and more complex. Researchers may therefore observe both the helping strategies acted by the adult and the child’s reactions. This methodology allows us to catch emotional, social and communicative signals expressed by the adult as well by the child. Furthermore, it makes it possible to organize a video-feedback phase addressed to adults. Before the debriefing, adults may consider with researchers the unexpected and sometimes negative effects of their actions, originally meant for benevolent intentions. In order to evaluate the utility of this procedure, some examples of results are finally discussed.
Keywords: Benevolent over-helping, simulation game, video-feedback, altruism, emotions.