Who are More Likely to Help: Powerful or Powerless?
After the tragic death of Kitty Genovese, a woman who was stabbed to death in front of several neighbors, a scientific investigation was made into the bystander effect. Bibb Latane of Columbia and John Darley of Princeton were the first to study the phenomena. Latane & Darley (1968) designed the classic bystander research paradigm where a comparison between helping rates of individuals who witness a crime versus a group of people who witness the same crime. Across their studies, they have found that 75% of people helped when faced with an emergency situation alone versus 53% who helped when faced with an emergency situation when in a group.The aim of my research is to understand if, how, and why the psychological phenomena of power attenuates the bystander effect. Power is a force that is unparalleled in the impact it exerts in social situations. Previous research shows that power increases levels of testosterone whereas it decreases levels of cortisol – a combination that allows one to buffer stress easier. The implication is that power may induce a temporary physiological change that will allow one person to break the bystander effect and help in an emergency situation.
Message to Sponsor
- Major: Psychology
- Sponsor: Wishek Fund
- Mentor: Dana Carney, Haas School of Business