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Piliavin et al arranged for a series of emergencies to be staged on the express trains of New York 8th Avenue Independent Subway during weekdays from 11am to 3pm - this line made no stops for 7.5 minutes.
Four teams of students made up a victim, model and the two observers who would board the train. They did the trials 103 times; 6-8 each day. All 4 students playing the role of victim were male and identically dressed in Eisenhower jackets, old trousers and no tie. Aged 26-35; 3 white and 1 black.
Once the "victim" boarded the train, after about 70 seconds, the "victim" would stagger forward and collapse. He would remain lying until he received help. During the 38 trials, the victim smelt of alcohol and carried a liquor bottle wrapped tightly in a brown bag. During the 65 trials, the victim was sober and carried a cane.
Models was always white, aged 24-29 and wore informal clothes. In the critical area the model would help early, so after 70 seconds the victim collapsed and 150 seconds later they collapsed (late help); same for the adjacent area.
The observers were all female and took seats in the adjacent, recording data secretly as possible. They recorded the comments made by passengers. One observer noted the race, sex and location of every passenger in the critical area and the other in adjacent.
After the 7.5 minutes on the train they got off and proceeded the same procedure taking the train back to the original stop.
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