Piliavin Train Experiment

Piliavin Train Experiment

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  • 4 groups of 4 students conducted the experiment. There were 2 males and 2 females. One male played the victim, the other played the model and the two females were observers.
  • The experiments took place on the express trains of the New York 8th Avenue Independent Subway, weekdays between 11am and 3pm, between 15th April 1968 and 26th June 1968.
  • The victim either played the role of an ill person or a drunk person. Both types of victim were dressed in an Eisenhower jacket, old trousers and no tie. The drunk victim would carry a bottle in a brown paper bag, and the ill victim would carry a cane.
  • 70 seconds into the journey, the victim would collapse in the critcal zone of the train. In total, this was staged 103 times (6-8 times a day). The students swapped to a different train after 1 trial.
  • Once the vctim had collapsed, they waited to see if any participamts would help. If they did, the observers would record their sex, race, and how long it took them to help. They also recorded the sex and race of every particpant in the train.
  • Sometimes the model would be the one to help the victim. This was to see if having somebody helping first would then encourage more people to help. The model sat the victim upright and remained by his side for the test of the journey.
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