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Pilliavin Essay

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Laura Henderson Psychology Pilliavin Essay Pilliavin wanted to research into diffusion of responsibility in the real world and whether it actually occurred. In order to do this she carried out a field experiment on the New York subway. (i)The experiment was carried out by teams of 4 students on a 7-8min journey on the subway. The team consisted of a victim, a model and 2 observers. The female observers and the model and victim would both get would enter the train via different doors, the observers would sit somewhere in the adjacent area and the model would be in either critical or adjacent, depending on which was chosen. 30 seconds after entering the train carriage the victim would fall in the critical area of the carriage and could be in one of 2 states: * Cane trial - The victim carried a cane, as if he was ill or disabled. * Drunk trial - The victim was sprayed with and so smelt of alcohol and was carrying a brown paper bag, with a bottle in. ...read more.


This was the arousal used and the behaviour of the people around was recorded. Another control was whether the model was an early or late helper, this was to see the effect, if any, of someone starting to help and whether others would follow and help as well. Another advantage of an experiment is that it can be replicated. If an experiment is replicated and the same results are obtained, then it is more likely that the results are true and the findings can be used to generalise the behaviour of the general population. This can be done with the Pilliavin study because of the quite strict methodology that was used to carry out the experiment e.g. the exact timing of the model, the length of the train journey and the condition of the victim. Disadvantages: Although in an experiment, most of the variables can be controlled, there are still certain aspects that can't be, especially in a field experiment, where people haven't been given any information that they are taking part. ...read more.


(iii) Another method that could be used to look at peoples helping behaviour and diffusion of responsibility would be to write and give out a questionnaire out to people. It could present people with a few written scenarios and multiple choice answers and they could choose the option that they would do if they found themselves in that situation. This would be easier to carry out as it would require less time and man-power than the train experiment, it would still give quantitative data that is easy to analyse and the experimenters would have more control of the participants and would be able to get a balance of the sexes and of races. A questionnaire would however greatly decrease the validity of the study because would it be measuring people's actual behaviour or how they think they would react? Demand characteristics would be a bigger problem as well, because people would be able to guess what the questionnaire was about and change their answers to help or perhaps hinder the results, to what they think is wanted from the experimenter or otherwise. ...read more.

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