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Group Size and Help Requests 1 Running head: GROUP SIZE AND HELP REQUESTS How Group Size and Help Requests Affect Helping Behavior James Madison University
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Group Size and Help Requests 2 How Group Size and Help Requests Affect Helping Behavior Imagine you’re walking down the street and as you decide to cross the road your shoe gets stuck. As you’re struggling in the road with your shoe a taxi driver is racing toward you at full speed. You don’t see it and it doesn’t see you. Will one of the thirty or more people around you jump to your aid? There’s a big chance that they won’t. What causes this phenomenon? Why aren’t people willing to help when someone is in danger? Most importantly, what can be done to ensure that you do get the help you need? Much research has been done on the bystander effect. This is the theory that the more people who are around a victim, the less likely a bystander is to help. Even if someone does decide to help, it will take more time (Latane & Nida, 1981). There are three hypotheses as to why this occurs. The first is diffusion of responsibility. This means that the bystander feels that since other bystanders are present, those other bystanders will help, so why should they bother to help (Latane & Nida). The second hypothesis is pluralistic ignorance. This means that the bystander will look around to see how others are responding before they respond. If no one appears to notice the victim is in need or initiates helping, then the bystander will be unlikely to help (Latane & Nida). The last hypothesis is audience inhibition. This is when a bystander will not help because they fear that others present may judge them and then they will become embarrassed (Latane & Nida). Bibb Latane has conducted much research on the bystander effect. His work with John Darley (1968) helped to show that as group size increases bystanders will be less likely to give help to the victim. In their experiment they invited participants in for a discussion. They were listening to a tape on which a person talking would start to have a
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Group Size and Help Requests 3 seizure. If the participant thought that they were the only person participating in the conversation with the victim then all of them reported the seizure. However, if the participant thought four others could hear the seizure as well, then only 62% reported the seizure. Darley and Latane also found a significant effect between group size and the amount of time it took the participant to report the seizure. When more bystanders were
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