I've been reading this really interesting book, "Opening Skinner's
Box" by Lauren Slater. It's about Psychological experiments in the
last century, how they impacted the scientific field,their influence
on our lives, their origins and the myths and facts surrounding these
10 experiments are looked at ranging from behavioural
shaping to lobotomy. One of the most interesting experiments was
carried out by two psychologists (Bibb Latane and John Darley) after
the murder of a one "Kitty Genovese" in 1964. Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in 1964 by a mentally ill serial
rapist and murderer.
The murder took place over a period of about
thirty minutes, during which 38 witnesses heard her screams for help
but did nothing. During the period she was attacked three separate
times, each time she screamed for help, each time her neighbours
switched on the lights in their apartments and did nothing more.
The news of the murder and the action (inaction) of her neighbours
enraged the nation and prompted Darley and Latane to investigate what
they came to call the "bystander effect".
This basically is that people are less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when
there are others present. Harley and Latane showed this using a
series of experiments, one which involved helping a supposedly
The results of the experiment showed that 62% of
people will fail to offer help in an emergency situation if others
are present, whereas if alone, they will almost always offer help
Darley and Latane then developed what they called the five stages of
10 years after Harley and Latane's experiments, a social scientist
(Arthur Beaman) at the University of Montana took a group of college
students and showed them the films of the experiments that
articulated the five stages of helping behaviour. He found that the
students who saw the films and learned the necessary stages were almost
twice as likely to offer help than those without such education.
In the Unlikely Event of a Water Landing.
1. You, the potential helper, must notice an event is occurring.
2. You must interpret the event as one in which help is needed.
3. You must assume personal responsibility.
4. You must decide what action to take.
5. You must then take action.