Classic Study in Social Psychology

Topics: Bystander effect, Kitty Genovese, Diffusion of responsibility Pages: 6 (1160 words) Published: July 11, 2015

Classic Study in Social Psychology
Erica Mariscal Vigil
PSYCH/620
Diana Wheatley
04/14/14

Classic Study in Social Psychology
The bystander effect is associated with the phenomenon, which states that when a larger amount of people are present, the less likely people are to help a person in need of assistance. When an emergency occurs, people are more likely to help when there are little or no other people. A summary about this study as well as an explanation of the results and how the concept of situationism relates to the study will be discussed. The Bystander Effect

In 1964 the murder case of Kitty Genovese, a woman who was stabbed 38 times while bystanders watched and did nothing to help, caught the attention of John Darley and Bibb Latane. Darley and Latane conducted many experiments in an effort to rationalize the psychology behind the bystander effect (Cherry, 2014).

The experiments involved situating a participant either alone or with other participants and staging and emergency scenario. Darley and Latane then measured the time it took participants to respond to the emergency. They also measured whether they took intervention measures or not. The results showed that the presence of other participants made participants reluctant to helping by a considerable margin (Dean, 2007). Method

Darley and Latane determined that for obvious reasons they would not be able to reproduce the events of the Genovese murder but needed a situation that would approximate a true emergency in order for the bystanders to be observed. Darley and Latene told students taking an introductory psychology class at New York University a covers story stating, that they were conducting a study on how students adjust to university life in a competitive, urban environment and the types of personal problems they were experiencing. They told the students they would be in separate rooms to avoid any discomfort. The students were then asked to take turns talking to one another through an intercom and each student would be allowed two minutes to talk (Darley and Latane, 1968). The students were then divided into three different experimental conditions. The participants in group 1 believed they would only be talking to one other person; participants in group 2 thought they were talking to two others and those in group 3 were told that they would be talking to five other people. In actuality, the subjects were alone and the voices were on tape (Darley and Latane, 1968). Darley and Latane then decided that most people would interpret a realistic epileptic seizure as an emergency. As the discussions began, the participants heard from the first “student,” a male, who had trouble concentrating on his studies and sometimes, suffered severe seizures. Then the conversations were switched, in group 1 it was the participants turn while in the other two groups the participants heard from other students before it was their turn. The emergency occurred when the first student spoke again. The first student spoke normally, but then began to have a seizure (Darley and Latane, 1968). Darley and Latane measured the percentage of subjects in each group who left their cubicle to help the student in trouble. They also measured how long it took participants to respond to the emergency. The participants were given four minutes to act, before the experiment was ended (Darley and Latane, 1968). Results

The results from the study supported their hypothesis, which they called diffusion of responsibility. According to Darley and Latane (1968), “ As subjects believed there were a greater number of others present, the percentage who reported the seizure quickly, that is, as the attack was occurring, decreased dramatically. Among those who eventually helped, the amount of delay in helping was greater when more bystanders were present.” (p 2) The average delay in responding was less than one minute for group 1, whereas it was over...
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