Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Experiment: artificial bringing about of an event or artificial creation of a state for testing a hypothesis. Experiments can lead to the reformulation of the initial hypotheses and the reformulation of theories. See also theories, measuring, science, hypotheses, Bayesianism, confirmation, events, paradigm change, reference systems.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
Haslam I 202
Experiment/helping behavior/bystander effect/Darley/Latané: After a murder in New York in March 1964 that 38 witnesses had observed from their homes without calling the police, Darley and Latané devised some of the most innovative and influential experiments in the history of social psychology. Taking the presence of others in an emergency situation as their key causal variable, they set out to examine the effect that the number of other people present in an emergency situation has on the willingness of an individual to respond to that emergency. Variants:
Haslam I 203
1) (Darley and Latané, 1968(1)): 72 New York University undergraduate psychology students were invited to take part in discussions about personal problems that students might have while at university. In the experimental set-up, the participants were asked to comment on the situation in their everyday lives, suggesting that their opinion could be heard by one, two or six other people. In reality, this constellation was only suggested by technical means. The real participant listened via headphones to the description of an alleged participant (who appeared as a future victim of an attack) of his daily problems. The other people took their turns (with numbers of contributions depending on the experimental condition). The naïve participant talked last in the series. When it was again the victim’s turn to talk, he made a few relatively calm comments, and then began to experience medical difficulties. Expressing audible distress, he then collapsed. (Darley and Latané, 1968(1): 95-6)
Haslam I 204
This was followed by silence. Darley and Latané measured the percentage of participants in each condition who helped the student in trouble (helping was defined as leaving the cubicle and notifying the experimenter of the problem).
Results: [the] likelihood of intervention, and the time taken to intervene, both varied as a function of the number of other people believed to be present. When participants believed they were the only person who had heard the emergency they were significantly more likely to intervene and also reacted far quicker to the emergency.
2) (Darley and Latané 1968)(1) (The „white smoke“ experiment): here participants’ reaction to an emergency that unfolded as they sat in a room filling in a questionnaire was examined. In different experimental conditions, participants were either on their own in the room or there with two others. Moreover, sometimes the others were naïve participants and sometimes they were confederates who had been instructed to ignore the smoke and remain passive. The results indicated that when people were on their own most of them (75%) raised the alarm, but that when they were with others only 38% did so. As well as this, they responded much more quickly in the former condition. Moreover, when the other people in the room were confederates who remained passive throughout the unfolding drama, then participants were also likely to be passive with only 10% raising the alarm in this condition (a small minority helped immediately while the rest remained passive throughout). >Bystander effect/Darley/Latané.

1. Darley, J. and Latané, B. (1968) ‘Group inhibition of bystander intervention in emergencies’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 10: 215-21.

Mark Levine, „ Helping in Emergencies. Revisiting Latané and Darley’s bystander studies“, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic studies. London: Sage Publications

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Latané, Bibb
Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017

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