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Discuss Research Relating to Bystander Behaviour.

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Nikki Jarvis Discuss Research Relating to Bystander Behaviour Bystander behaviour refers to the behaviour of somebody who does not feel it is their problem if someone is in need of help, therefore, they stand and observe thinking that someone else will help instead, and this occurs more often when there are a lot of people around. One classic example of bystander behaviour is the incident involving Kitty Genovese. The witnesses all could have assumed that someone else must have phoned the police. There has been a lot of research into bystander behaviour; some involving laboratory experiments, and some involving field experiments. The two main areas of research are that carried out by Latane and Darley and that carried out by Piliavin. Latane and Darley created situations in a laboratory, whereas Piliavin took more consideration into the personal factors of the victim. Latane and Darley suggested that when there is only one witness to a person that needs help, that witness is 100% responsible for giving help. When there are two witnesses there is 50% responsibility put onto each of them, and so on. The more witnesses to a victim's need for help, the less anyone feels responsible. ...read more.


If other people have decided the person definitely needs assistance and starts to help them, we may decide to help too. If other people do not seem bothered, we might assume the victim does not really need help due to the behaviour of others. In the 'smoke filled room experiment', participants were sitting in a waiting room, either alone, or with some confederates. They think they are waiting to take part in a psychology experiment, and in the mean time are asked to fill out a questionnaire. While this is occurring, the room fills with smoke. When there was just one participant, they left the room and raised the alarm. When there were confederates present, who carried on filling in the questionnaire, and ignored the smoke, the participants behaved likewise. Latane and Darley explained this by suggesting that bystanders look at the behaviour of other people in order to obtain guidance in what to do. If other people are behaving as if the situation is not an emergency, the individual bystander will do the same. In the case of Kitty Genovese, no one was seen to go to her rescue; this may have defined the situation of not requiring any action. ...read more.


Darley tells us, "In the USA and perhaps in all advanced capitalistic societies, it is generally accepted that the true and basic motive for human action is self interest." Individualistic cultures stress the need for individual achievement and individual recognition, whereas collectivist cultures stress interlocking, family-like connections in which individuals depend upon each other. This incorporates the idea of Norm Theory, that is, different cultures will have different social norms, therefore, different attitudes to helping others, for example, the Chinese custom, Guan Shee Shwe, which involves the exchange of gifts, personal favours, the cultivation of personal relationships and networks of mutual dependence. It leads to the manufacturing of obligations and indebtedness. This might bare some resemblance to the Reciprocity Norm. A study has been done comparing Indian and American adults. They found that American participants were less likely to help someone they did not like compared to someone they did like. Within the Indian participants there was no difference, whether they liked them or not. These types of studies show us that however useful the research carried out by Piliavin and Latane and Darley is in America, it can not be generalised at all with other cultures. ...read more.

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