Participation in a bystander intervention experiment and subsequent everyday helping: Ethical considerations

Shalom H. Schwartz, Avi Gottlieb*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examines how participation in a bystander experiment involving deception affects later everyday helping. Both subjects who had formerly participated in a bystander intervention experiment and a group of matched controls who had not participated were interviewed in a survey either 6-10 months (early) or 11-20 months (late) after completion of the experiment. Half of the previous subjects were prompted to recall their experimental experience in the interview. After leaving the interview, subjects encountered a needy person. Mere participation in the prior experiment did not influence helping during the early period but enhanced helping after 10 months had elapsed. Participation plus recall inhibited helping during the early period but not later. Compared with controls, past participants helped more with the passage of time. The results suggest that participation in bystander intervention experiments induces both context-specific cognitions about possible inauthenticity of need and generalized beliefs about the value of helping. With the passage of time, the former fade while the latter become more salient. Ethical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-171
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1980

Funding

FundersFunder number
National Science FoundationSGC 72-05417, BNS 77-23287

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