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What was the aim of Piliavin?

To investigate the impact on helping behaviour of a number of different variables
- Type of victim (drunk or ill)
- Race of victim (black or white)
- Someone setting model behaviour
- Number of witnesses


What is diffusion of responsibility?

Where the responsibility for the situation is spread (diffused) among the people present. This implied that the more people present, the more the bystander believes the responsibility is spread out so they feel less personally responsible and less likely to help.


What is bystander apathy?

A bystander may believe that someone else will do what is necessary so there is no need for them to off their assistance.


What is the background for Piliavins study?

Kitty Genovese in 1964, a women stabbed to death over a period of 30 minutes in front of a reported 38 unresponsive witnesses.


What was the research method?

A field experiment.
Conducted on in the New York Subway, the journey lasted about 7 and a half mins.


What were the IVs of the research?

- Type of victim (drunk or carrying a cane)
- Race of victim (black or white)
- Effect of a model (after 70 or 150 seconds, from the critical or adjacent area)
- Size of witnessing group


What were the DVs in this research?

Recorded by two female observers seated in the adjacent area:
- frequency of help
- speed of help
- race of helper
- movement out of critical area
- sex of helper
- verbal comments by bystanders


What was the sample?

Around 4450 men and women used the New York subway between 11:00 am and 3:00pm
About 45% were black and 55% white.


Outline the procedure of the study?

4 teams of 4 researchers (2 female observers, 2 males, one a victim and another a model).
The victims were 3 black and 1 white, General studies students.
The victim stood near a pole in the critical area, after about 70 seconds he staggered and collapsed. Until receiving help he remained on the floor.
If no help was offered either 70 second or 150 seconds the model would stand in.


What was an issue with the procedure taking place?

There were more cane trials than drunk trials which were distributed uneven across black and white victims because Team 2 violated instructions by running cane rather than drunk trials because the victim 'didn't like' playing drunk.


What were they key findings from this study?

The cane victim revived help 95% of the time compare to the drunk victim 50% of the time.

Help was offered more quickly to the cane victim (median of 5 seconds) compared to 109 for drunk victim.

90% of the helpers were male

Slight tendency for same race helping especially in the drunk condition.

No diffusion of responsibility, the larger the group the quicker the response time.


What are the possible conclusions?

An individual who appears ill is likely to get more help than one who appears drunk.

Men are more likely to help a male victim.

There is not connection between the number of bystanders and the speed of helping. Bystanders weigh up a cost-reward ratio.


Evaluate the research methods used in research Piliavin et al.

It was a field experiment and was carried out in a real life setting (New York subway).
It had a standardised procedure which made it replicable and as it happened in the field it has a higher ecological validity.

It used an observation as a means of collecting the data,

It was also a snapshot study, we cannot be certain that the results weren't just reflecting the behaviour in a particular moment of time.


Evaluate the data collected in research Piliavin et al.

The study collected quantitative and qualitative data.
The quantitative data consisted of the number of 'victims' that helped, the percentage genders of helpers. This allowed Piliavin to compare results from one condition to another.

The qualitative data was the comments made by passengers.


Discuss the ethical issues of research by Piliavin et al.

The participants on the subway were deceived by the person pretending to be a victim.
Passengers did not consent to take part in the experiment, they could withdraw themselves physically from the area but they could not withdraw their actions or what was said.
Those that did not help the victim may have had a reduced self worth which brings harm to the participants.
The participants were not debriefed.
A plus side no names were recorded so there was confidentiality.


To what extent was research by Piliavin be considered valid?

A field experiment so there were many extraneous variables that may have affected the results.
A large amount of control were run such as the time of day, where the victim fell and what the victims were wearing.
There is the possibility that passengers may have witnessed the experiment more than once.
High ecological validity. ]


To what extent was research by Piliavin et al. be considered reliable?

The findings from the experiment were fairly reliable as they ran 103 trials they shown a consistent effect.
However Piliavin did not have enough results in relation to the black drunk victim (only 22) compared to the white drunk victim (57).


To what extent did research by Piliavin et al. have a sampling bias?

Very large sample, in equal proportion of black and white participants to the real population.
Can be said to lack generalisability lots of groups of people were not in the sample.


To what extent did research by Piliavin et al. be considered ethnocentric?

It can be said to have low ethnocentrism as New York has such a large range of races.
However while the sample had different racial origins they were all from the same culture.


Discuss the free will determinism debate in relation to Piliavin et al.

Free will: as helping behaviour was lower in the drunk condition (50%) compared to the cane condition this shows a choice to help.
It can be argued a level of determinism by weighing up cognitively cost to reward ratio which is confirmed by nature.


Discuss the reductionism holism debate in relation to Piliavin et al.

Holism: the model of response to emergency situations that Piliavin et al. developed to explain their results can be seen as holistic as there a large range of factors determining the choice (physiological and cognitive).

Reductionist: missed out other reasons for helping behaviour such as kindness and genuine unselfish desire to help other people.