The positive bystander effect: Passive bystanders increase helping in situations with high expected negative consequences for the helper

  • Fischer P
  • Greitemeyer T
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Abstract

The present field study investigated the interplay between the presence of a passive bystander (not present versus present) in a simulated bike theft and expected negative consequences (low versus high) in predicting intervention behavior when no physical victim is present. It was found that an additional bystander increases individual intervention in situations where the expected negative consequences for the helper in case of intervention were high (i.e., when the bike thief looks fierce) compared to situations where the expected negative consequences for the helper were low (i.e., when the bike thief does not look fierce). In contrast, no such effect for high vs. low expected negative consequences was observed when no additional bystander observed the critical situation. The results are discussed in light of previous laboratory findings on expected negative consequences and bystander intervention.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Bystander effect
  • Field experiment
  • Negative consequences
  • Social inhibition
  • Theft

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