The Effects of Ambiguity of an Emergency, Attribution of Arousal and Race of the Victim on Helping Behavior.
DELAWARE UNIV NEWARK DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY
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The effects of ambiguity of an emergency, attribution of arousal, race of the victim, and subjects prejudice were investigated in a 2x2x2x2 factorial design employing 160 subjects. The data indicated that bystander helping could be reduced through misattribution of the perceived source of arousal. As predicted for the white victim, in a situation allowing for multiple interpretation, subjects given the opportunity to attribute their arousal to a placebo exhibited significantly less helping behavior than did subjects not given this attributional opportunity. When the situation was unambiguously critical, however, no differences occurred. Results were discussed in relation to Piliavin, Rodin, and Piliavins 1969 model. The findings of the present study also supported Gaertners 1975 notion that racial attitudes operate indirectly. Subjects given the opportunity to reinterpret the situation helped the black victim less often than the white victim. When the intensity of feedback cues was diminished or when subjects had the opportunity to misattribute the source of arousal, discrimination in helping behavior was obtained. When no alternative interpretation was available, though, no difference in helping due to the race of the victim was revealed. Author