Young children show the bystander effect in helping situations.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Much research in social psychology has shown that otherwise helpful people often fail to help when bystanders are present. Research in developmental psychology has shown that even very young children help and that the presence of others can actually increase helping in some cases. In the current study, in contrast, 5-year-old children helped an experimenter at very high levels when they were alone but helped significantly less often in the presence of bystanders who were potentially available to help. In another condition designed to elucidate the mechanism underlying the effect, children's helping was not reduced when bystanders were present but confined behind a barrier and thus unable to help (a condition that has not been run in previous studies with adults). Young children thus show the bystander effect, and it is due not to social referencing or shyness to act in front of others but, rather, to a sense of a diffusion of responsibility.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Plötner, M; Over, H; Carpenter, M; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • April 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 499 - 506

PubMed ID

  • 25792132

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9280

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0956-7976

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0956797615569579

Language

  • eng