If a person was walking and fell scattering a handful of paper, then more bystanders should help pick up papers if they saw another person helping out, in comparison to no one assisting them, because of the social exchange and conformity theory. The social exchange theory is also known cost-benefit analysis or as utilitarianism, where people debate on whether or not their act of kindness is a costly or a gain for them in the end. Conformity can be defined when a person changes their behavior in order to satisfy a group norm.
This hypothesis reflects the findings from the Kitty Genovese which exemplified the bystander effect; the phenomenon where if there are more people present, fewer people will be willing to take action. This experiment was an attempt to create a norm, since the behavior that was being mimicked was to pick up the scattered papers. The social experiment would be done on adults at the public library on a Saturday and Sunday at the same time. It was done within a 2-hour time span on each day, every 30 minutes.
The independent variable in an experiment is aimed to be the only variable the is manipulated or changed in order to produce more accurate and consistent data. The dependent variable in an experiment is the variable that is measured from the results. This was a field experiment – a simulation that is not performed in a laboratory – and makes the experiment more difficult to set controlled variables. Controlled variables should have unchanging situations, to have more reliable data in an experiment.
There would be more genuine responses from the participants however, by means of a field experiment since they would not expect their reactions to be measured. The independent variable would be where no one is given prior notice to assist in picking up papers, in contrast to an assistant who is already aware of the experiment and is tasked with picking up papers. The dependent variable would be the number of bystanders that help to pick up papers and their reactions to the person falling down.
The controlled variable would be the time span in which the experiment was conducted and location. If the experiment took place in an actual laboratory, the same time slot would be used in experimentation. There is more fluctuation in field experiments’ data due to infernal validity, resulting in independent variables not being related to the dependent variable, but rather other uncontrollable variables. This means that the bystanders that chose to help pick up papers may did not have to help strictly because they wanted to conform or to copy others’ actions.
Some people may have helped because they were not preoccupied with other business. Another factor that might have played a part, was seeing younger students and not wanting to help out those younger than them. They might have felt that there was nothing to gain from helping out a younger student, and would not have been rewarded through the experience. There are studies that show intrinsically motivated rewards cause hormones – dopamine and serotonin – to release, shown through brain scans; the lack of reward could have motivated them not to help.
The participant population was relatively uncontrolled, varying drastically in ages without really knowing the age of the participants. This was conducted starting around noon, with many people available at the library to be participants. Overall, there were 23 people that participated and were around when the experimenter fell and dropped the stack of papers. Two different trials were performed at the library. During the first hour at the library, the experimenter fell and observed the number of passerby that came to help pick up papers.
During the second hour at the library, an assistant would help pick up the papers with the experimenter. The different reactions and number of passerby that assisted was recorded during the different trials. The materials included fifteen papers that were dropped during the fall. Another assistant was tasked with recording the number of people that helped pick up papers, and the reactions that they exhibited. The outcome was unexpected; I guessed that if there was a person already helping out, more people would mimic the behavior.
In contrast, there were fewer people that assisted the experimenter that dropped the paper if they already saw the assistant helping picking up papers. During the first hour, there were 6 people that helped, while 10 did not do anything overall. This shows that 38% of the passerby actually went out of their way to help. During the second hour, with the assistant who helped pick up papers, there were 3 people that helped, with 9 who did not overall. This shows that 25% of the passerby went out of their way to help after another person was already assisting the experimenter.
The data gathered was unexpected, because the method of forming a norm was not exhibited. The passerby did not conform to the norm that was attempting to be created. The results of this experiment did not support the hypothesis, as the passerby already had already seen another person helping and probably assumed they experimenter did not need help. The bystander effect can diffuse responsibility, and could have possibly been a factor during the experiment. An additional