Bystander Intervention, Age and Vehicle Assistance
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
PHILLIPS, D. S. (2001). Bystander Intervention, Age and Vehicle Assistance. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 4. Available online at Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Bystander Intervention, Age and Vehicle Assistance
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (
In this study the researcher looked at the difference age has on bystander intervention. This study was conducted to due to the fact that is important to know which age person is more prone to help when in times of vehicular emergency. This experiment was conducted in a busy parking lot and involved an apparently stalled car. Participants were randomly noted as they passed by the car. The results were significant showing that a larger percentage of young people stopped compared to the two other categories of older people.

A middle-age friend of mine was stranded on a nearby busy highway for over an hour this past December. As he sat and waited for help a large quantity of cars drove by, however several drivers stopped to ask if he needed assistance. All of the drivers who stopped he estimated, were under the age of thirty. While this might come as a shock it proved intriguing enough to me to put it to the test. Who is more likely to stop when it comes to roadside/car trouble? I decided to use his hypothesis and expected that more people in the 30 and under category would stop and help. While most of the literature concerning bystander intervention is concerned with crime, peer pressure, or emergency type situations (Borges1977) (Darley and Latane 1968) and (Latane 1997), there is not much information available concerning vehicle assistance. That is the major reason to test this hypothesis.


Participants for this study were random Wal-Mart shoppers who were passed by the front parking space in aisles 8 and 9 on three selected dates. The times and dates were from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday April 14th, 8pm to 10 p.m. Wednesday April 17th, and from 8pm to 10 p, April 18th. The participants were treated in compliance with ethical guidelines.

The automobile used in the study is a red 1994 Dodge Shadow. The hood was up in one condition the car was raised with a jack in the other condition.

During three different two hour segments, the student researcher was at a centrally located parking space as close to the North Belt Wal-Mart as possible observing and noting the ages and genders of the customers who passed by. Those offering assistance were duly noted as well. The data gathered from these observation times was collected and entered into the data processing program SPSS10.

A paired sample t test was calculated to compare the mean percentage of those who stopped from those who didnít stop. The mean percent who stopped of the age group 1 those under the age of the 30, was 88.2%, in age group 2, ages 30-55, 93.9%, and for those in age group 3 those 55 and over was 94.1 %. A significant percent of those in the younger group stopped as compared to the two older groups. A one-way ANOVA was used comparing the frequency and ages of those who stopped with that of those who did not. A significant difference was found among the ages (F(1,488)=.418,p<.05). This analysis pointed out that though not very frequently, the younger category was more prone to stop than the older. Results regarding gender were insignificant.

In this study on bystander intervention and age in roadside situations, the hypothesis was that a higher percentage of people in the youngest age category would stop than in the other two older age categories. The results from this study supported this hypothesis. Twelve percent of those under the age of thirty stopped, which was almost double the number of people who stopped in the other ages groups. As with any study there were some limitations. The age of those who did not stop was estimated by the researcher, the fact that the individual with the stalled car was under the age of thirty might have influenced whether or not the passersby would have stopped. The fact that the conditions were the hood being up and the car being jacked up might have influenced the passersby. However, if this experiment were to be conducted again similar results would probably be achieved. If considering further investigation it might be interesting to see if the people in need of help were different if the results would be different.

Borges, Marilyn (1977). Effect of Third Party Intercession on Bystander Intervention. Journal of Social Psychology, 103. 27-32. Darley, John and Bibb Latane (1968). Bystander Intervention in Emergencies: Diffusion of Responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8. 377-383. Huston, Ted L., Mary Ruggiero, Ross Conner, Gilbert Geis (1981). Bystander Intervention Into Crime: A Study Based on Naturally Occurring Episodes. Social Psychology Quarterly 44. 14-23. Latane, Bibb, Judith Rodin (1969). A Lady in Distress: Inhibiting Effects of Friends and Strangers on Bystander Intervention. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 5. 189-202. Latane, Bibb (1981). The psychology of Social Impact. American Psychologist 36. 343-356. Latane, Bibb (1997). Dynamic Social Impact: The Societal Consequences of Human Interaction. Malden MA, Blackwell. Levine, Mark. (1999). Rethinking Bystander Nonintervention: Social Categorization and the Evidence of Witnesses at the James Bulger Murder Trial. Human Relations 52. 1133-1155. Morgan, Charles. (1978). Bystander Intervention: Experimental Test of a Formal Model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36. 43-55. Zimbardo, Philip G., Ann L. Weber, and Robert L. Johnson. Psychology 3rd Edition. Allyn and Bacon, 2000.

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Submitted 5/1/01 1:17:36 PM
Last Edited 5/1/01 1:49:28 PM
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