The experiment conducted on 12th February 2014 was similar to the experiment conducted by Piliavin in 1969 – the Subway Samaritan study. The study took place on the New York underground train system, where the aim of the study was to investigate factors affecting helping behavior. We had the same aim in our experiment, which was conducted in the school’s dining hall during lunch.
The experiment began with the ‘victim’ (Maya) casually strolling in through the interior door of the hall for lunch, then collapsing ten meters from this door. Two groups of observers were present – One directly in front of the critical area, and another 3 tables away, from the side.
After collapsing, a junior student who was proceeding to the handwash area looked down at the victim, noticed that nobody was helping, and continued walking.
Three seconds after the victim was down, a group of tenth graders looked at each other with a confused look after seeing the victim on the floor, and rushed to help.
Noticing this, several other students rushed to the victim’s aid (approximately 20 students) and either directly helped the victim, or stayed in the vicinity until the victim was back on her feet and looked conscious.
In the study by Piliavin, we had learned that people tend to help when in groups, rather than when they are alone by themselves. This was proven in the experiment conducted by us, the psychology students of 11AS.
The team comprised of :
Victim – Maya S
Observers close to critical area – Parthiv S, Armand C, Tehmina C
Observers observing from a distance – Siddharth S, Srujanika D, Rhea S
Prior to the experiment, all school teachers were informed about the experiment and were instructed not to aid the victim. This was done as the study was targeted at the students.
Some students who had come to the aid of the victim had also been debriefed right after the experiment.
We had also received permission from our principal, Mrs. Mallika Sen, to ensure that it was suitable to carry out this experiment.