Field Study on Helping Behavior

Topics: City, Observation, Elevator Pages: 5 (1751 words) Published: November 15, 2010

The aim of this field study was to examine helping behavior among passerbies in crowded and non-crowded areas. The study was carried out in an informal manner where the actor would lie down in the given areas, and the observers would record the amount of people who stopped to help or enquire. Due to the concept of the study, the passerby’s were the indirect participants and the objective of the study was discreetly disclosed to each passerby who bent down to offer assistance. Results showed that people tend to show more concern and interest in a less crowded area.

Helping behavior among strangers in crowded and non-crowded settings The subject of prosocial behavior became increasingly popular since the 1970’s and from that era onwards till the present day, psychologists and researches have been finding new revelations and methods to attempt to describe and measure as well as predict variables that correlate with helping behavior (Amato, p.130, 1990). Social psychologists have considered many factors that could possibly contribute to the behavior such as the number of the bystanders present during a potential “help” situation (Latane & Darley, 1970 as cited in Amato, 1990), the uncertainty of a particular situation (Clark & Word, 1974, as cited in Amato, 1990), and to what degree an individual has to be in discomfort for bystanders to actually want to offer any help at all (Shotland & Huston, 1979, as cited in Amato, 1990). According to many investigators, the helping behavior is just a temporary, short-term circumstance that a person finds himself in (Amato, 1990). The aim of this experiment is to investigate helpfulness among strangers in two different settings; crowded and non-crowded areas. Bibb Latane and James M. Dabbs (1975) conducted an experiment related to helping behavior. One of the prime objectives of their study was to find out “the effects of the number of people present on the likelihood of help” (Latane & Dabbs, p. 181). The experiment was conducted in elevators in several office buildings, libraries, hospitals and shopping malls in three different cities, where size and population did not differ in terms of urbanization of those particular cities. The experimenter would firstly enter the elevator and stand right at the back while waiting for the door to close. Upon the closing of the elevator door, the experimenter would then “accidentally” drop a handful of shillings or a piece of stationary in the middle of the lift and wait a few moments before bending down to retrieve them while making note of how many people had helped ( Latane & Dabbs, p. 182). The experimenters consisted of one hundred and forty five males and females from all three cities combined and the number of people in a single elevator ranged from 1 to 12 each time. Results proved that as the number of people in an elevator increased, the number of individual willingness decreased in a customary manner (Latane & Dabbs, p. 185). In another similar study, Robert V. Levine (2003) and his colleagues conducted a sequence of research concerning helpful behavior towards strangers in 36 different cities in America and 23 other popular and large cities across the nation. Among the independent field conducts that were carried out to evaluate helping behavior ranged from dropping belongings in public to observe if a bystander would notify the pedestrian, observing if the public would help and injured individual or lend a helping hand to a blind pedestrian to cross a busy street to recover a letter that was misplaced, dropped, or left behind (Levine, 2003). The results that were obtained from all cities in the United States showed that people from medium to small-sized cities were more likely to offer help in comparison to the larger cities in the northern side and West Coast. Levine deducted that “crowding brings out our worst nature” (Levine, 2003) and theorizes that when massive amounts of people...
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