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Ten Years of Research on Group Size and Helping

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Reviews research that attempts to replicate and extend B. Latané and J. M. Dabbs's (1970) discovery that the presence of other people inhibits an individual from intervening in an emergency. Particular attention is paid to the nature of the precipitating incident, the ambiguity of the helping situation, laboratory vs field settings, characteristics of the Ss, victims, and other bystanders, and the amount and kinds of communication among bystanders. It is concluded that, despite the diversity of styles, settings, and techniques among the studies, the social inhibition of helping is a remarkably consistent phenomenon; however, victims are more likely to receive assistance when only a single individual witnesses the emergency. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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... For the literature on the bystander effect, I focus on Meyer's (2002Meyer's ( , 2010 findings on social courage and on Darley's (1968, 1970) research as well as other seminal researches on the subject (e.g. Latané and Nida, 1981). ...
... In such a situation, social inhibition, plurality of ignorance, and diffusion of responsibility are less likely to develop. Citing Latané and Rodin (1969), Latané and Nida (1981) explain that, "Friends often tended to discuss the incident and often arrived at a mutual plan of action. Hence, friends are less likely to misinterpret each other's lack of action and less likely to feel embarrassed about acting in front of each other, making it less likely that 'pluralistic ignorance' will develop" (pp. ...
... 319). 1010 There are also findings on how friendship can be a deterrent in helping in cases where the friends involved are clear about their decision not to help (Latané and Nida, 1981). Such cases are beyond the scope of my paper since the Wittgensteinian approach to ethics focuses primarily on the significance of how a shared practice or form of life can be a basis for better understanding objective moral judgments. ...
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The paper is a conceptual inquiry on the later Wittgenstein's approach to ethics through an account of how the method of language-games applies to research on the bystander effect. Using the Kitty Genovese murder and the Wang Yue hit-and-run as sample cases, I cite findings on how the bystander effect involves confusion on action due to the ambiguity of the situation. I argue that the presence of this ambiguity is consistent with Wittgenstein's view on the indeterminacy of language and that the method of language-games offers a solution via an approach of engaged reflection rather than abstract deliberation. The method of language-games deters the bystander effect by establishing a sensitivity that puts us in a better position to clarify and take the perspective of others. Emphasis on acquiring this sensitivity is significantly similar to how closeness and social learning facilitate social courage. I conclude by explaining how the method of language-games leads to a critical conception of agency that is fundamentally connected to a sense of the other and how closeness and social learning serve as concrete illustrations of how Wittgenstein's method of language-games becomes applicable in practical ethics. Keywords Wittgensteinian ethics, method of language-games, bystander effect, social inhibition, plurality of ignorance, diffusion of responsibility, social courage Lumberto G. Mendoza teaches in the Department of Philosophy in UP Diliman, where he also earned his BA and MA in Philosophy. He teaches introductory courses on philosophy, logic, and ethics, and his main area of research is Wittgensteinian ethics.
... The bystander apathy/effect is well known as the phenomenon that people's probability of helping reduces once passive observer are present in a serious condition (Álvarez-García et al., 2021;Darley & Latané, 1968;Fischer et al., 2011;Griffith et al., 2021;Latane & Darley, 1968;Latané & Darley, 1970a, 1970bLatané & Nida, 1981;Maulani et al., 2022;Ong et al., 2021;Rudnicki et al., 2022;Sjögren et al., 2021;Troop-Gordon et al., 2019). Several earlier sad real-life events demonstrated this important effect: In 1964, Kitty was murdered and raped in New York, whereas many of her friends and neighbors looked on. ...
... Many bystander witnessed the rape and murder, but no one physically interfered in this matter. An experimental study conducted by Latané and Nida (1981) that provided strong empirical and theoretical support for the presence of the bystander effect in different experimental conditions such as educational and organizational (Latané & Nida, 1981;Ong et al., 2021;Troop-Gordon et al., 2019). In both a practical and a theoretical terms, the bystander effect has played a critical role in comprehending of helping attitude. ...
... Many bystander witnessed the rape and murder, but no one physically interfered in this matter. An experimental study conducted by Latané and Nida (1981) that provided strong empirical and theoretical support for the presence of the bystander effect in different experimental conditions such as educational and organizational (Latané & Nida, 1981;Ong et al., 2021;Troop-Gordon et al., 2019). In both a practical and a theoretical terms, the bystander effect has played a critical role in comprehending of helping attitude. ...
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Background: The bystander effect, the reduction in helping behavior in the presence of other people, has been explained predominantly by situational influences on decision making. There is a lack of a scale quantifying the possibility of an individual intervening upon noticing peoples. The purpose of the present study was to develop and establish the reliability and validity of bystander effect scale in Pakistani students' population. Methods: The proposed instrument, the bystander effect scale for university students, is a 12-item self-reported questionnaire that was developed based on present and existing bystander theory. A cross-sectional research design and purposive sampling technique was used to perform this preliminary study. Five hundred university students (Male, n = 250; Female, n= 250) with age ranged between from 18 to 30 years (M = 21.31, SD = 10.67) were included from different public and private university of Rawalpindi and Islamabad from January 2021 to July 2021. Results: Exploratory factor analysis was used to explore the underlying factor structure of bystander effect scale in Pakistani university students. Exploratory factor analysis was suggested three key factors for the proposed scale: (1) Fear of retaliation; (2) Emotional apathy; (3) Indecisiveness towards responsibility or Delegation of responsibility. Conclusions: This study provided a preliminary scale to examine bystander effect in Pakistani university students. The results of present study also demonstrated that newly indigenous developed scale was reliable and valid scale for measurement of bystander behavior in university students.
... For instance, extensive research has examined the bystander effect, which refers to the phenomenon that an individual's likelihood of helping decreases when passive bystanders are present in a critical situation . While the bystander effect can be reduced when the emergency seems to be particularly dangerous one (e.g., Fischer et al., 2006), too often people fail to muster the moral courage to stand up for someone else (Latané & Nida, 1981). ...
... Similar to why the bystander effect can occur, individuals may rely on the reactions of others when in an ambiguous situation. Thus, if other people are not engaging, then they may believe that they should also not engage (Latané & Nida, 1981). People may also experience evaluation apprehension, which refers to the fear of being judged by others when acting publicly. ...
... For instance, extensive research has examined the bystander effect, which refers to the phenomenon that an individual's likelihood of helping decreases when passive bystanders are present in a critical situation . While the bystander effect can be reduced when the emergency seems to be particularly dangerous one (e.g., Fischer et al., 2006), too often people fail to muster the moral courage to stand up for someone else (Latané & Nida, 1981). ...
... Similar to why the bystander effect can occur, individuals may rely on the reactions of others when in an ambiguous situation. Thus, if other people are not engaging, then they may believe that they should also not engage (Latané & Nida, 1981). People may also experience evaluation apprehension, which refers to the fear of being judged by others when acting publicly. ...
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... Mistreatment that is observed by a significant number of individuals diffuses beliefs of personal responsibility to address the situation (Latané & Darley, 1970;Latané & Nida, 1981). As such, incidents of mistreatment that involve many observers are likely to alleviate third-party perceptions that their team members expect them to intervene because the responsibility to address the mistreatment is shared by all observers. ...
... This is because a third party who intervenes is likely to garner significant attention by disrupting the status quo and the perpetrator-target dynamic . Conversely, the number of observers is likely to foster perceptions that a response of inaction is likely much less salient because the responsibility to address the mistreatment is shared among observers (Latané & Darley, 1970;Latané & Nida, 1981). Thus, this makes an inaction response much less noticeable to their team members. ...
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Two experiments with 179 undergraduates investigated the impact of anonymity on bystander reactions to emergencies and on the timing of bystander decision making. The experiments differed in the nature of the emergency (violent assault vs seizure) and in the speed with which the emergency developed from relative ambiguity to unequivocal clarity concerning the victim's need for help. In both experiments, an additional bystander's awareness of the emergency and the S's anonymity were crossed in a 2 × 2 factorial design. Anonymity vis-à-vis the victim had no effects on helping. Anonymity vis-à-vis the other bystander did affect helping, apparently by reducing evaluation apprehension. Whether evaluation apprehension enhances or inhibits helping depends on the expectations attributed to other bystanders. The timing of effects suggests that when emergencies are ambiguous, anonymity (through reduced involvement) delays making the decision regarding whether help is appropriate. Once emergencies are clear, anonymity (through evaluation apprehension) influences the decision regarding one's own obligation to intervene. (15 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
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Helping behavior was studied as a function of urban density. Four requests for help (for the time, for directions, for change of a quarter, and for the person's name) were solicited in three areas differing in population density (downtown in the Canadian city of Toronto, in the suburbs of the same city, in a small town outside of that city). On each measure the percentage of helping behavior decreased linearly as urban density increased. Normative data from New York City were also compared and found very similar to those from downtown Toronto. An absence of sex differences in either giving or eliciting help was noted.
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In the context of either a two- or four-person group discussion via an intercom system, female Ss overheard either a high- or low-status group member undergo an asthma attack. The prediction deriving from Latané and Darley′s model-that reporting of the emergency would be quicker in the two- than in the four-person group-was supported. The prediction that independent of group size reporting would be quicker when the victim was high status, rather than low, was not.
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Milgram's lost letter technique was used to test the hypothesis that large-city dwellers are less responsive to the needs of their fellow man than are small-town dwellers. Two experiments are reported in which lost letters were dropped in major cities, medium size communities and very small towns. In the first experiment the letters were stamped, but in the second experiment they were unstamped. Significant differences were found but they did not support the hypothesis. The results suggested the presence of regional differences in return rates and a possible source of bias was identified.
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