September 6, 2022

A Meta-Analytic Review of the Validity of the Tangram Help/Hurt Task (THHT)

Kjærvik, S. L., Saleem, M. , Velasquez, G. , Anderson, C. A. , & Bushman, B. J.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin


The Tangram Help Hurt Task (THHT) allows participants to help another participant win a prize (by assigning them easy tangrams), to hurt another participant by preventing them from winning the prize (by assigning them difficult tangrams), or to do neither (by assigning them medium tangrams) in offline or online studies. Consistent with calls for continued evidence supporting psychological measurement, we conducted a meta-analytic review of the THHT that included 52 independent studies involving 11,060 participants. THHT scores were associated with helping and hurting outcomes in theoretically appropriate ways. Results showed that THHT scores were not only associated with short-term (experimental manipulations, state measures) and long-term (trait measures) helping and hurting outcomes, but also helping and harming intentions. We discuss the strengths and limitations of the THHT relative to other laboratory measures of helping and hurting, discuss unanswered questions about the task, and offer suggestions for best use of the task.

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