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Piliavin et al wanted to improve on older studies of responses to people in need by increasing ecological validity.
He conducted an experiment and had 4 hypothesis... 1) A drunk person would get less help than an ill person 2) People would help others that are of the same race 3) Seeing one person help would encourage others to help 4) The larger the group the less likely it is that help will come (diffusion of responsibility)
The experiment took place on 15th April 1968 - 26th June 1968 It was conducted on the express trains of the New York subway between 2 stops with a 7.5 minute gap. The train was divided into and adjacent area (where the observers sat) and the critical area (where the victim would always collapse)
During weekdays, 4 teams of students (victim, model and 2 observers) would board the train and approximately 70 seconds into the journey the victim would stagger forwards and collapse in the critical area. Until he received help he would remain on the floor. The emergency situation was staged 103 times, with 6-8 trials on a given day. After carrying out the trial, students would disembark train.
All 4 students playing the role of the victim were male, identically dressed in Eisenhower jackets. They were aged 26-35, 3 white and 1 black. 38 of the trials - victims smelled of alcholol, cafrried a bottle in a paper bag pretending to be drunk 65 of the trials - victim appeared ill, carrying a black cane
The Model was always a white male aged between 24-29 and wore informal clothes but were always dressed differently. There were 4 model conditions.... 1) Critical Area Quick (responding in 70 seconds) 2) Critical Area Late (responding 150 seconds after collapsing) 3) Adjacent Area Early 4) Adjacent Area Late
The 2 Observers were both females and took seats in the adjacent area recording data as best as possible for the duration of the ride. They recorded comments made by the passengers, where they were in the train, their race and sex. They also recorded how long it took for the first helper to arrive, or how long it took for a helper to arrive when a model helped first.
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