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A fascinating dimension of the bystander effect is the diffusion of responsibility The general hypothesis that has been tested is As the number of bystanders increases it is less likely that any one onlooker will help Darley and Latane 1968 Social influence adds to this idea Passive social influence from bystanders acts on the diffusion of responsibility and maximizes the bystander effect Although pro-social behavior can be learned because of social restraint exhibition of pro-social behavior in public is unlikely Therefore in emergencies inert bystander behavior is often replicated and exhibited In the 1968 study Bystander Intervention in Emergencies Diffusion of Responsibility John M Darley and Bibb Latane 1968 tested their hypothesis The more bystanders to an emergency the less likely or more slowly any one bystander will intervene Darley and Latane 1968 Seventy-two university undergraduate participants were exposed to an opportunity in which they could either help or fail to help a perceived seizure victim The information given to the participant was limited to the number of other bystanders able to hear the seizure There was no personal communication between the participant and the other bystanders hence no opportunity for the participant to know if or how anyone else was responding to the emergency The independent variable was the perceived number of other people to have heard the emergency There were three groups Group one had participant and victim group two had participant victim and one confederate group three had participant victim and four confederates The dependent variable in this study was the time to respond The results of this experiment supported the hypothesis specifically that group size is positively correlated to the response time of helping behavior Darley and Latane 1968 Darley and Latane perceived that those who were alone with the victim felt they had no choice but to help the victim 1968 When other bystanders were present the cost of not helping was reduced exemplifying diffusion of responsibility Latane and Darley
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