When I'm a stranger...


Ok, let's set up a situation first.

Situation: You just saw a person who is almost dying at the moment on the street and you're walking down the street toward him/her.

Do you think you would definitely help him/her?

Many people might think they would help him/her as soon as they catch the scene.
I thought so too before i watched this clip down here.
In the video, you may see things are quite different in reality, and i think this reality fact is really sad.


From the video, we can observe that people are actually just passing by the scene and completely ignore the person.

This is an example of the bystander effect.
The bystander effect describes the phenomenon in which less people would stand up and help a person in distress when there are more people around. When an emergency situation occurs, more people would take an action if there are few or no other people around.

It basically tells us that even if we are such a nice person, we might not show the nice side of us when there are people around and when we don't have the responsibility to take care of that person.

More interesting thing however is i think that people actually did not follow the bystander effect when the actor is wearing a nice suit. People in 7 seconds helped the actor who was acting out as if he was almost dying on the street.

I think this last scene helps out even more with our understanding of social psychology. We even act differently (off of the bystander effect theory) when the person dying looks more professional and somehow "fitted in the society."

This phenomenon totally made me angry, but I could not be 100% sure that I would definitely help because i have never been in that kind of position yet.

But I'm hoping that I do not follow the bystander effect theory and actually help out the person in distress.


Wow, I really was not expecting such a drastic difference in response time when the appearance of the person changes. I can honestly say that after reading this section of the textbook than I will keep out a closer eye for those in distress that may be ignored. I however think that this kind of behavior is pretty common on campus. Students sleep on the lawn, in the library, all over campus really, and it's commonplace so I never take notice. I am not sure if I would recognize a napping student from one that is ill.

I was really shocked by the video tagged with this post. Though it reminded me of a statistic I heard on the radio which claimed that on a busy road people with car trouble were extremely less likely to receive help than a person on a back road. I know from experience when I was near my very rural home town and slid out into a ditch, I had a surplus of people, both men and women, come to my aid. If I had had a similar problem in a more populated area would I have gotten the same amount of help? I would hope that I would but it is interesting to see how readily these concepts can be applied to actual situations.

I feel as though I would say I would help, but if it actually came down to it, I dont think that I would help. Not that I am a bad person, because just like you said, many people do ignore this when things like that happen.

I think it is interesting that it still took quite a long time for the well-dressed woman to be helped, but not the well-dressed man. It could just be that in this particular case, the first person who happened upon the man was willing to help. I would have to see more than just the one case where a man was helped before I said that was the cause. I think this is a sad phenomenon and I hope that videos like this and shows like "What Would You Do?" which features scenarios such as this one help alert people to this effect so they are more likely to go against it.

In this particular experiment, the fact that it is at the tube station and how it is staged I would think has some impact on results. Besides people being in a timely hurry, it's not uncommon to see homeless or street musicians in these places. I know I wouldn't have stopped for the first woman, because she almost looks homeless and I wouldn't trust that her moans for help weren't to get me close enough to pickpocket.

Secondly, because it is staged, none of the passerby were people who saw the moment of 'collapse' or injury to these people. I'd like to believe that even in this setting if someone was walking and started having a heart attack or fell down an escalator people would be right there to help. But laying across the stairs just looks like odd behavior.

When I watched the video I was really surprised that it took people so long to help those actors out. They wanted to fit in more with everyone else than do the right thing. Even though people had noticed the actors over there they still did nothing, because it would have been out of place. But honestly speaking I don't know what I would do in this situation until I was actually put in one. Would I help the person or would I want to fit in with everyone and just keep walking by. I hope I would help that person but after watching this video I can't say for sure.

Hmm... this is a really troubling video. I remember learning in a First Aid class that, if you need someone to call 911 or another emergency number, you must delegate that job to a specific bystander if you want them to do anything. That is, you must give the responsibility of calling 911 to one person, otherwise we experience the "responsibility diffusion" phenomenon. this is a scary concept, especially considering the idea that so many people can watch something go horribly wrong, and do nothing about it.

This reminds me of an episode of CSI, in which a man became very ill and died on an airplane. Not only did all the bystanders sit silently and watch the man die, but they all refused to tell police officers the truth when they were questioned. Of course, this is a fictional story - however, I think it explains really clearly the idea of responsibility diffusion, as well as the concept of social subgroups with 'rules' as discussed in the video.

Actually, when a person is almost dying and everyone is passing by him casually, I would also pass him. It's actually soemthing like 'nobody helps him so I become hesitated.' It seems that this bystander effect is related to social corformity that 'if everyone is walking casually, I would do so.' I know this is not a good behavior for the person who is almost dying, but this is a kind of psychological behavior.

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This page contains a single entry by hwan0118 published on April 22, 2012 7:19 PM.

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