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What Would They Do? A Social Psychology Experiment [ Bystander Effect ] Zoe Kan 0313630 Tan Wen Hao 0313690 Phua Jing Sern 0314572 Cheah Teck Wei 0315215 Parham Farhadpoor 0313698

Psy Report

May 16, 2015



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Page 1: Psy Report

What Would They Do?A Social Psychology Experiment

[ Bystander Effect ]

Zoe Kan 0313630

Tan Wen Hao 0313690

Phua Jing Sern 0314572

Cheah Teck Wei 0315215

Parham Farhadpoor 0313698

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1. Acknowledgement ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1

2. Abstract –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 2

3. Introduction ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 3

4. Method ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 4-5

a. Design

b. Participants

c. Materials

d. Procedures

5. Results ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 6-15

6. Discussion ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 16

7. References ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 17

8. Appendix ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 18-21

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A great gratitude within group members, Phua Jing Sern, Cheah Teck Wei, Zoe Kan, Parham Farhadpoor and Tan Wen Hao. Special thanks to Ms. Chia Yee Pang for giving us the support and guidance in accomplishing this assignment. Additionally we would also like to thanks the participants involved in this study for their kind cooperation.

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AbstractStudents in Taylor’s University tend to take the safety of their belongings for granted, making

assumptions that their belongings would be safe when left unattended in an open area. The aim for

this experiment was to investigate if the bystanders would take action to the situation when

belongings are being stolen.

The hypothesis made is that bystanders who are alone will take action to the situation and that they

normally inform the victim first instead of catching the suspect straight away. The research method

was qualitative and quantitative as the recorded data can be quantified (male/female alone/in a group)

and qualities by recording down the factors. This was a bystander’s effect experiment. There were 127

participants in total, 66 male and 61 females. Females react faster than male in the situation. In

conclusion, most females who are alone, will take action by informing the victim straight away. The

hypothesis is accepted. In conclusion to the aim, bystanders do take action depending on various


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IntroductionThe Bystander Effect is a social psychological phenomenon that occurs when there are more

people around a victim of certain incident, individuals will not offer any help to them.

Researchers found that the probability of individuals helping the victim is inversely related to

the number of bystanders around the victim. Hence, the higher the amount of bystanders, the

lower chance that anyone of them will give a helping hand. There are a certain variable that

helps to explain the happening of bystander effect such as ambiguity, cohesiveness, group or

alone, personality, the situation and so on.

This phenomenon was demonstrated by John Darley and Bibb Latané in 1964. The most

widely popularized case is the murder of Kitty Genovese near her home. The interesting fact

of this case is that several of her neighbours witnessed the attack and could have possibly

stopped the incident, but then no one actually took action thus leading her to death. Besides,

there are some examples of bystander effect such as reaction when bystanders witness a

robbery, burglary, kidnapping, someone fainting and so on. One experiment that is notable is

to observe the bystander’s reaction when a child is abducted in front of them whether they

helps or ignores.

The aim of the experiment is to investigate how the situations, ambiguity, environment,

cohesiveness, group membership, personality and background affect the reaction of bystander

when they witness a crime. The hypothesis of the experiment is people are less likely to help

when they are in group than alone.

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A scenario experiment is designed, aiming for both staffs and student of Taylor’s University

where the relationship between the outcome reactions of students and the amount of people

present is observed and recorded. Taylor’s University students are to witness a “crime”

situation performed by our members and observation is made. One of the extraneous

variables is the inconsistent focus between the participants’ current attention and his/her

environment happenings. As this fault can lead to unstable results, we told our ‘thief’ to be

more obvious in terms of creating a scene while stealing, increasing the chance of gaining

attention from the people.


Our target setting is limited within the boundaries of Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus,

aiming both students and staffs. Race, Gender, Age group, Grouping (Alone/In Group) and

Reactions are the key points in our recording table. A hidden camera is carefully placed

around the happening area to record the participants’ physical traits and reaction.


A laptop is used as a means to portray a precious belonging that will be stolen by our thief,

and a camera is used to record the results. Laptop is used because it is big enough to gain

attention from the participants, a better option than belongings like smartphones and wallets

as they are too small. Our thief is dressed and disguised in very suspicious hooded and

shaded attire so that higher attention can be gained.

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1. The team was assigned into different roles: a videographer, a “victim”, a “thief”, and

two on-site analysers.

2. An appropriate setting was chosen to perform the experiment.

3. Each of us entered the chosen setting one by one to avoid suspicious planed activity;

by sequence: The “thief” tailgates the “victim”, followed by the videographer who

covers the area with appropriate camera placement, and finally the two analysers.

4. The “victim” was carefully seated around the populated area to increase exposure,

while the “thief” was placed in the corner so that movement is needed to “steal” the

laptop, as this increased the exposure contacted with the participants. The

videographer and analysers were randomly seated as well

5. All the participants’ physical traits (Race, Gender, Age group, Grouping) within the

selected area are recorded down by the analysers.

6. As the actors are properly placed, a signal is given by the videographer to signify the

initiation of the crime scenario and all activities are recorded.

7. The “victim” leaved the area with her bags and other belongings, but left her laptop


8. After a delay, the “thief” then walked towards the laptop and grabbed away in an

incognito but slightly obvious way.

9. The reactions of the participants presented in the area were recorded by the analysers

and video footage was recorded.

10. After the scenario was completed, the analysers proceeded to stand out and informed

the participants that everything happened earlier were staged.

11. Steps 1-10 were repeated in different settings to obtain various outcomes.

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Overall Amount of Participants’ and Races

Chinese 87Malay 15Indian 6

Foreigners 19

Total 127

Figure 1

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Participants Who Noticed

Chinese 11Malay 6Indian 0

Foreigners 10

Figure 2

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Overall Participants’ Gender

Male 66Female 61

Figure 3

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Participants Who Noticed

Male 16Female 11

Figure 4

Based on the results of Figure 4, Males are slightly more aware to their surroundings’ activities.

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Participants Who Took Action

Male 0Female 2

Figure 5

But based on the results of Figure 5, out of 127 of different participants, only 2 Females took action with fast reaction time.

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Overall Participants’ Groupings

In a Group 39Individual 9

Figure 6

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Reactions From A Group

No Reaction 31Noticed 8Reacted 0

Figure 7

Based on the results obtained in Figure 7, less than 20% of the grouped participants actually noticed the victim’s laptop got stolen

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Reactions From Individuals

No Reaction 5Noticed (No Reaction) 2

Reacted 2

Figure 8

But for the individuals, almost 50% are aware that the thief has grabbed away the laptop and 22% actually reacted to the situation with fast reaction.

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DiscussionsBased on the hypothesis, the research proves that effect when people are less likely to help when they are in groups than when alone.

As the “thief” steals the laptop, the expectation was that between people who realize, the individuals’ reaction are more likely to help in compare to people in groups. After discussion on information it is mostly because there is loss of efficiency from lack of coordination among people who are in groups and they are usually in gage or asking others about helping or not. Every day, students leave their belongings such as laptop or handbag in places like cafes and restaurants in Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus unintended, and the research proves that it is a completely wrong decision to make as it was so easy for a thief to steal the belongings without much difficulty. Furthermore, most of the people who realized, didn’t try to take action at all. And those who do, majority only stare and points.

There are some of the constructive ways that could have been done to obtain better results. For example, initiate the experiment during students’ peak hours to obtain highest exposure. Additionally, initiate the scenario in less distracting places, so people can notice the surrounding activity more effectively. There are other types of experiments that could have been done base on the hypothesis. One of the example is the “dead man” experiment, where a person is lied down, pretending to die in a public area, the expected reactions is also similar to this experiment.

To summarize everything, people are more likely to help when they are not in groups, and the theory first demonstrated by John Darley and Bibb Latané has been proven.

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1. Manning, R., Levine, M. & Collins, A. (2007). The Kitty Genovese murder and the social psychology of helping: The parable of the 38 witnesses. American Psychologist, 62(6), 555-562.

2. Darley, J. M. & Latané, B. (1969). Bystander “apathy.” American Scientist, 57, 244-268.

3. Soloman, L.Z, Solomon, H., & Stone, R. (1978). Helping as a function of number of bystanders and ambiguity of emergency. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4, 318-321.

4. Rosenthal, A.M. (1964). Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case. University of California Press.

5. Darley, J. M. & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8, 377-383.

6. Chia, Y.P. (2014). Conformity and Group Behaviour [PowerPoint slides].Retrieved from

7. Zimbardo, P. [HeroicImaginationTV]. (2011, September 25). The Bystander Effect [Video file]. Retrieved from

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Participant Information LetterYou have been invited to participate in a social psychology experiment of ‘The Bystander

Effect’ conducted by Zoe Kan, Phua Jing Sern, Tan Wen Hao, Cheah Teck Wei and Parham

Farhadpoor under the supervision of Ms. Chia Yee Pang at Taylor’s University Lakeside

Campus. This study is being conducted to fulfil the assignment requirements of Social

Psychology (PSYC0103) subject.

The researchers are interested in observing the reactions of staffs and students when

experiencing a “crime” scenario performed by our group members. A video camera was

hidden from plain sight and all activities and reactions are recorded. After the “crime

performance is complete, the researchers will reveal themselves and informed everyone in the

scene that it was all staged.

Participants will have all rights to have their face blurred off and researchers will absolutely

cause no harm towards the participants. All information collected will remain confidential

and anonymous against the public. Only the researchers and Ms Chia Yee Pang will have

access to the data for results marking reasons.

If you have any enquiries or concerns about this assignment, please contact our lecturer:

Ms Chia Yee Pang: [email protected].