Have you ever wondered why while in our world injustice prevails no one reacts? While there is abandonment, poverty, disease and many other difficult situations, as a society do we look hypnotized?
Have you ever wondered how freely you think? How consciously do you act or omit an act? How much is your decision affected? Have you ever wondered how true Einstein's thought is? Are we rational beings or animals with slightly restrained instincts? Stay in this post and we try to find out the truth together
John Darley and Bibb Latane were the ones who tried to find answers to some of the above questions. Both of them were phycologist (Darley pass away in 2018), who try throw experiments spot what is it that makes us apathetic in a very serious and critical situation.
But let's take things from the beginning, an occasion for the study of human psychosynthesis and how it interacts, what pushes it into action or apathy, there was an incident in March 1964
Friday and 13
Specifically on Friday, March 13, 1964. It was three o'clock in the morning and Catherine Susan Genovese, commonly known as Kitty Genovese, was coming home from her night shift from the bar she owned. She lived in Queens, New York. After parking her car, she proceeded to the entrance of her apartment building. There she noticed a man - who seemed suspicious to her - and turned to get back in her car and call the police. He missed. The man, named Winston Moseley a necrophiliac serial killer, caught up with her and stabbed her in the back. As she turned to face him, he stabbed her in the abdomen. Genovese, started shouting for help! Lights were on in nearby homes and curtains were drawn on the windows. But no one came out to see what was happening. Only one man shouted, "Leave the girl alone." Then Moseley left quickly and Kathryn was dragged to the entrance of her house. But all the lights in the houses went out again. Moseley approached Kathryn and stabbed her again. She screamed and asked for help again. The lights came on again, but no one spoke, no one came out. Moseley walked away and waited. A few minutes later he approached the girl who was still breathing and ended up cutting her from the neck to the genitals. Then he took off his pants and slapped the dead body. This heinous crime lasted 35 minutes. The first attack took place at 3:15 and Moseley left at 3:50. 38 eyewitnesses observed the girl being stabbed (three times) to death, doing nothing, without even calling the police who were notified at 4 in the morning and when it arrived it was too late. Winston Moseley,the perpetrator managed to disappear, to be arrested a week later, in an attempt to rob an apartment.
Moseley later confessed to the crime he had committed: "I felt that none of these people would go down the stairs." And that's how it happened. He was sentenced to life. His initial death sentence was reduced to lifetime imprisonment, to which two additional 15-year sentences were tacked on for crimes—including another rape—he committed when he escaped from custody in 1968. Winston Moseley died in 2016
Ηow can this seemingly frightening indifference and lack of intervention be explained? Moral decline, alienation and dehumanization produced by the urban environment, common sense taking into account the horrific crime of that decade or something else? This is what Latane and Darley explored
Darley and Latane performed four different experiments
The two psychologists hired two students as actors. A third student, would be the unsuspecting subject. According to the experiment, all three of them would sit in a room and fill out a questionnaire for the University. A few minutes after the start of the experiment, the psychologists would release into the airway system of the building, a kind of harmless but absolutely convincing smoke through the ventilation duct of the room. There where three conditions. In the first one there was only unsuspecting subject, in the second
another three naive subjects and in the final condition one naive subject and two confederates who purposely noticed and then ignored the smoke (even when the room became hazy from all the smoke).
In the first conditions, 3/4 of alone subjects calmly noticed the smoke and left the room to report it. Only 10% of the subjects with confederates reported it. Surprisingly, in the three naive bystander condition only 38% reported the smoke.The large number of people present reduces the fear even when the risk is increased.
Some students - subjects, went and examined the ventilator, then looked back at the student-actors, who did not seem to care, and then continued their work with the questionnaire. Despite evidence,they based on social reactions came from partners of Darley and Latane and decided to interpret the emergency - risk,as a harmless failure of the air conditioning system. It may have been that people in groups, were less afraid and therefore less likely to act. Or people were reluctant to show fear in a group situation.
In this case subjects were either alone or with a friend or finally, with a stranger in a room. The room was separated from another room by a curtain (which they passed on their way to their waiting room). As they were waiting, Darley and Latene turning on a tape recorded that simulated a fall and subquent moaning about a hurt leg ,about 130 seconds.
3/5 of them, 1/7 pulled back the curtain to check on the experimenter. 1/7 entered via another door, and 1/4 simply called out. None of them went to report the accident.
On the alone subjects, 70% reacted, but only 7% of those with passive confederates reacted. They became confused and frequently looked over at the confederate. About the half of stranger pairs offered to help.
In friend pairs 70% helped (same as alone group), which shows some inhibition because given the 70% alone rate we would expect a 91% rate when you have somone who trust.
This experiment confirm the results of the previous one. It seems that the risk of inappropriate behavior is less with friends.
The third experiment was about a staged
shoplifiting theft of a beer at a liqour store.
They had also two different conditions - one or two customers in the store, and one or two "robbers". Overall 1/5 of subjects reported the theft spontaneously, and about the half of them reported upon prompting by the store owner.
Either on condition of one or two robbers made no difference. Neither age or sex. The 65% of single customers reported and the 56% of two-customer setups made a report . In both cases Darley and Latane expected higer percentages.
At all the three until now experiments, concerned whether a bystander noticed and concluded there was an emergency. He must also decide about his responsiblity and what kind of assistance it would take.
In the cases of many people at an emergency, the overall responsibility for one individual is reduced dramatically. Either, they possibly assume that some of the rest probably have already responded to the emergency and in the end nobody act! Do you find any similararity with your personal behaviour, in your personal stories?
Forth experiment (the last)
In this last try, Darley and Latane, wanted to check, if in the case of other be present but with no visual or acoustic contact, will the subject report or not an emergency.
Again, they put a student in a room and told him that they gonna talk about normal stress problems with other students, who were similarily in isolated rooms to ostensibly keep their profile secret. Actually, all the other students were on tape. One of them pretend became that suffers a seizure!
Again they varied the conditions as the number of people in the discussion group was two persons (subject and victim), three and six persons.
The aslo varied the experiment with two last conditions. In the first one the student(subject) was with one its real driend and in the second the students (subjects), who were 6 in the number and the fake victi had short talk before the experiment.
95% of all students-subjects reported the seizure within the first 3 minutes. 85% of perceived alone students-subjects left their room before the victim finished speaking to report it. Only 1/3 who thought there were four other bystanders did so. All of them reported the seizure in the condition of the two real person. About 62% in the six person condition reported the emergency.
The presence of only one friend significantly increases the response speed. As it turned out, the responsibility does not lie with friends. Also, people who had known the victim for a while (the last condition) were much more likely to respond more quickly to his calls. Visualizing the victim helped to stimulate the capacity for action
According to Darley and Latane, bystanders go through a 5 different steps. Cognitive and behavioral process in emergency situations:
Notice that something is happening – our ability to notice a situation changes by many things. If we are in a hurry or in a group in which no one notices the event.
Interpret the situation as an emergency – is about ambiguous situations when people aren’t quite sure of what is happening and therefore don’t know how to deal with it
** Assume a degree of responsibility ** – this is affected by the diffused responsibility phenomenon and also by other elements such as whether we see the victim as someone deserving of help, whether we see ourselves as someone capable of helping and the relationship between the victim and ourselves.
Choose a form of assistance – this can be a direct intervention helping the victim or a detour intervention like calling the police.
Take action – performing the assistance chosen
Long story short, do you remember back in time, in your child age, the days when you were young and afraided to stay alone at home? Think it twice ! According to the above experiments, it is wrong to feel more secure in a crowd places.
If you are still reading and you are intrigued by such topics, with a study of human psychosynthesis and psychological experiments, I recommend Lauren Slater's book
Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century.
Also, for my post i use some parts of these sites and papers below. Mainly statistics. For more information check them out!