Title

Be Responsible? Priming “Responsibility” and the Bystander Effect in a Field Setting

Roles

Student Authors:

Danielle Kupersmith '20, Gettysburg College

Nevada Keyton '20, Gettysburg College

Matthew Simmers '22, Gettysburg College

Sara Walker '20, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-18-2021

Department 1

Psychology

Abstract

The bystander effect reveals that people are less likely to help a person in need when others are present. We examined the impact of priming the concept of responsibility on the bystander effect in a field study. Lone pedestrians (N = 259) were randomly assigned to a two (Bystanders: none and three nonresponsive bystanders) by two (Shirt: blank shirt and shirt with “Be Responsible” written on the front) design. A researcher dropped eight pens approximately 15 ft from a lone pedestrian, while wearing one of the two shirts in the presence/absence of bystanders (confederates). The bystander effect was found: Pedestrians helped pick up pens more frequently in the no bystanders condition (59.05% helped) compared to the nonresponsive bystanders condition (41.67% helped). The responsibility prime tended to boost helping rates, but it did not significantly increase helping rates either as a main effect or as part of an interaction term. The bystander effect was replicated in a field setting, but priming the concept of responsibility did not appear to reduce it.

DOI

10.1027/1618-3169/a000513

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This article is available from the publisher's website.

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