Piliavin et al: Good Samaritanism, an underground phenomenon?
If asked, the majority of us will say that we would help someone in distress. We like to be believe that humans are altruistic creatures but is this the case. On the 26th of March, 1964 and young lady named Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered near he home in Queens, New York. For more than 30 minutes approximately 38 people witnessed this from their homes and did absolutely nothing. This was said to be due to the Diffusion of Responsibility”, everyone assumed that someone else would do it. In order to investigate this Piliavin, Rodin and Piliavin conducted an experiment.
Aim: To test helping behaviour
Sample: Travellers on a New York Subway train between 11am and 3pm. 45% were black and 55% were white. On average 8.5 were in the critical area
Procedure: there were four researchers, 2 male and 2 female. For each trial one male was a victim’ and the other was a model. The females were always observers. There wee four different conditions; white male with a cane , black male with a cane, white drunk’ male (holding a bottle in a paper bag and smelling of alcohol) and the black drunk’ male. The victims each wore the same outfit; Eisenhower jackets, old slacks and no tie. The female observers sat outside the critical area Observers noted the passengers’ race, sex, location in the carriage, whether they were seated or standing and any comment made by passengers. The males always remained standing. The victim’ always stood next to a pole in the critical area. When the train passed the first station (70 seconds after it started moving) the victim staggered forward and collapsed on the floor, remaining there until help was received. If not help was received by the time the train stopped the model helped him to his feet. There were four different model conditions; critical area-early (the model appeared from the critical area and helped the victim’ after the 4th station, 70 seconds after passing the 1st), critical area-late (the model appeared from the critical area and helped the victim’ after the train passed the sixth station), adjacent area-early (the model appeared from the adjacent area and helped the victim’ after the 4th station, 70 seconds after passing the 1st) and adjacent area-late (the model appeared from the critical area and helped the victim’ after the train passed the 6th station).
-People generally help
-The cane victims’ were helped more.
-Males helped more than females
-The early model had an effects but the late models didn’t
-White people helped more than black people
-The drunk was helped more by people of their own race
-Some people left the critical area
-When in such a situation, people weigh up the costs and rewards.
-If one person helps, others will.