The implicit of bystander effect

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Crowded Minds: The Implicit Bystander Effect

Stephen M. Garcia and Kim Weaver Princeton University

Gordon B. Moskowitz Lehigh University

John M. Darley Princeton University

Five studies merged the priming methodology with the bystander apathy literature and demonstrate how merely priming a social context at Time 1 leads to less helping behavior on a subsequent, completely unrelated task at Time 2. In Study 1, participants who imagined being with a group at Time 1 pledged significantly fewer dollars on a charity-giving measure at Time 2 than did those who imagined being alone with one other person. Studies 2-5 build converging evidence with hypothetical and real helping behavior measures and demonstrate that participants who imagine the presence of others show facilitation to words associated with unaccountable on a lexical decision task. Implications for social group research and the priming methodology are discussed.

The bystander apathy effect is generally regarded as a well- established empirical phenomenon in social psychology (e.g., Dar- ley & Latane, 1968; Latane & Darley, 1968; Latane & Nida, 1981). A person who faces a situation of another person in distress but does so with the knowledge that others are also present and available to respond is slower and less likely to respond to the person in distress than is a person who knows that he or she is the only one who is aware of the distress. The research demonstrating this effect, entirely appropriately, has manipulated the perceived presence of others and consistently has found this effect. Tradi- tional theoretical accounts, such as the diffusion of responsibility explanation, focus on explaining how other actors present in the immediate situation influence would-be helpers' responses. A question left open that the present research seeks to begin to answer is at what level of calculational ideation this...