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Why Don't Bystanders Help? Diffusion of Responsibility or Social Norms?

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Introduction

Why Don't Bystanders Help? Diffusion of Responsibility or Social Norms? Abstract The aim of this study was to determine the extent that people are willing to assist a person that is in need of help in a non-emergency situation. This experiment was designed to test two concepts of helping behavior. Diffusion of responsibility, where the person in a group situation feels that is not his personal responsibility to intervene and others will intervene if necessary. Social norms concept, where people will do what society expects them to do. Using 125 participants, a non emergency situation was simulated. Finding a lone person in the street, an experimenter dropped approximately 100 sheets of loose leaf paper from a folder in the presence of a lone person, and reported those that helped. Using a confederate (a person taken into the confidence of the experimenter, and told the purpose of the study), 3 different conditions were conducted as follows: 1. Experimenter in the presence of a confederate that helped to pick up the papers. 2. Experimenter in the presence of a confederate that did not help to pick up the papers. 3. Experimenter by himself. It was found that only 40% helped if the experimenter was alone, 44% helped if the confederate did not help, and 55% helped if the confederate helped, supporting that of the social norm concept. Introduction This study is aimed at determining the amount of assistance onlookers will give a person in difficulty when in a group situation and when they are alone. ...read more.

Middle

By conducting an experiment by which the experimenter will drop approximately 100 loose sheets of foolscap paper and report on the amount of help he receives by a lone person in a street. There will be three conditions tested. The first will have a confederate present that will help to pick up the papers, the second will have a confederate present that will not help to pick up the papers, the third will have no confederate. It is hypothesised that this study would reflect that of social norms, people would be more likely to help in a non-emergency situation if they see somebody else helping. Method Participants The sample included 75 participants from four Monash University campuses, 47 participants from distance education students working in the general community, and 3 participants selected from the general public. The age, gender, socioeconomic status or culture of the participants was not recorded, nor is information regarding the environment or size of the Towns or Cities available. The total amount of participants was 125. Participants from the general public who participated in this research study were anonymous and unaware of their participation. The participants were selected by the following criteria: A person standing alone in a public place with no other person being within 10 meters of this person. The participant should not be involved in any activity consuming their attention. There was no discrimination between age or gender of the participants. ...read more.

Conclusion

It may be possible that people are not intervening in emergency situations, but are in non-emergency situations, through the decreased risk involved. Further study in this area would be desirable. In emergency situations it is easier for the bystander not to help, even if others are helping. Through fear of their own personal being, people may be unwilling to intervene. Not being qualified to deal with the situation, not knowing how to react, feelings of repulsion (blood, death) which could lead to a state of shock, could lead the bystander to diffuse the responsibility. Emergency situations tend to decrease the possibility of intervention in a group situation. In non-emergency situations people have no fear of intervening, their self is not in danger, therefore the possibilities of bystanders helping are greatly increased. Non-emergency situations allow the bystander to easily follow the social norm concept rather than diffusion of responsibly. It is more difficult for the bystander not to help when others are helping in non-emergency situations rather than emergency situations. The bystander may have feelings of embarrassment, or guilt if they were not to help, or feel that that others may think baldly of them if they do not help. In conclusion, this study represents that of the social norm concept in a non-emergency situation. In general people are more willing to help in a non-emergency situation when they see others helping, providing they have the time and the necessary skills to do so. Further research into emergency and non-emergency situations with group settings would be a valuable asset to this area of study. ...read more.

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