The goal of the study was to explain the diffusion of responsibility phenomenon; to determine what kind of action bystanders would take when witnessing an emergency. Would they run away from the responsibility and leave the problem for someone else to solve, or would they step in and help? The researchers hypothesized that bigger groups, who witnessed the event, would less-likely step in and help. This was due to the belief that if a lot of people witnessed an incident, they would leave the responsibility to help the victim to someone else.
The method to ascertain this information was as follows: Psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latané simulated an event to find out how students would react during an emergency. The students were divided into three different groups, where they would be talking to each other through an intercom. The first group had 2 people; the second group had 3; and the third group had 5.
The students were placed into different rooms, so they couldn’t see or communicate with each other. In every group, a speaker (who had been taped beforehand) claimed to have a history with seizures. After talking for a while, the fake emergency occurred; the speaker pretended to have a seizure. This was a part of the experiment to determine how students from different groups would react. The students were given 4 minutes to report the incident before the experiment was halted.
The results supported the researchers’ hypothesis. The response time for bigger groups was drastically larger compared to smaller groups. Group one’s response time was less than 1 minute, whilst group three’s response time was approximately 3 minutes. These results were collected from those who reported the emergency within 4 minutes. Everyone in the first group reported the incident, while only 85% of group two, and only 60% of the students in group three reported it.
This phenomenon can also be called the bystander effect; people are less willing to help a victim when other people are present. They leave the responsibility of helping the victim to someone else. A critical part of this is social influence. People are influenced by everything they experience. Religion can influence how a person behaves or acts towards others; our values are being tested by others.
Colleagues, friends and family can also influence how a person acts. A crucial time to teach these things is during childhood. If a person is taught to always prioritize themselves over others, the chances of them helping others decreases. It’s more challenging for an adult to change their beliefs compared to a child. How a child behaves is usually reflected by their parents. Different social environments play a big role in behavior. Some people live on the streets, whilst others live in big mansions. Their contrasting experiences can determine how they act in certain situations.
Trying to help someone who doesn’t need help can be rather embarrassing. Our pride is one of the reasons why we hesitate when helping others. No-one wants to be publicly humiliated or embarrassed. Humans are constantly judging each other based on the actions they take or how they behave. Not a single person wants to be inferior to another, which makes pride the main problem.
If people could view themselves objectively to identify their strengths and weaknesses, I believe this world wouldn’t be facing as many problems as it is now. Arrogance can ruin a lot of relationships; it’s hard to like people who view themselves as superior to others. What is important to note is that people are not perfect. We might have a perfect image of ourselves, but that is just a false perception to make us feel better.