Piliavin et.al.

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  • Created by: Guy
  • Created on: 02-05-11 09:32

Piliavin et. al.

Aim: To investigate a situational explanation of bystander behaviour.  How features of an emergency affects helping behaviour (race of Victim, State of victim, number of bystanders)

Participants:4450 Male and females travelling NY subway between 11 - 3 over 2 months

Method: field experiment 7.5 minute journey on train, 103 trials carried out, four teams of four people (2 observers, model, and victim)

Independent Variable: Black, White, Drunk, Ill

Dependent Variable (recorded by observers): time taken for first passenger to help, the gender, race and location of every helper

Controls: standardised victim always collapsed in the same way. The victim wore same clothes, observers recorded unobtrusively

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Piliavin et. al


  • 90% participants were male
  • The more passengers in the carriage the more people helped and faster


  • Found opposite to previous research: the more passengers in the carraige the more people helped so no diffusion of responsibility 
  • Suggest Arousal Cost Reward model to explain why people help
  • Heuristic device that propses that emergency situations create arousal and this is increased with identifiaction, empathy, proximity with the victim 
  • This arousal is reduced by helping or leaving the scene or rejecting the victim as underserving of help
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