WWYD has been noticing how abominably rude some young people in America are to our senior citizens. They’ve even noticed that it’s becoming a more and more common theme in movies and TV shows. Even more of a shocker are the abundance of Youtube videos showing teenagers harassing the elderly as if it’s funny. This bad behavior is fairly unique to the United States, and not in a good way, since in most other countries, respect for the elderly is considered vital, and disrespect of any kind is looked down upon as an extreme social more.
WWYD decided to do a little impromptu social experiment to see how the average observer would react if they caught young people being rude to an older person in public. WWYD pulled together a group of teen actors and asked them to follow various elderly people around on the streets of Montclair, New Jersey. The young actors were told to verbally abuse elderly men and women (who were also actors, don’t worry).
In social psychology, the “bystander effect” is a term that came about because scientists have found in previous studies, that individuals do not offer help to a victim, if other bystanders are not offering assistance either. According to the bystander effect, the more people present, the less likely anyone is to help. This is what some old psychology studies have shown anyway.
WWYD wanted to see if this phenomenon would occur during their experiment. To their surprise, the “bystander effect” did not occur. How amazing! Almost everyone who passed by, either stopped immediately and intervened, or turned around and walked back to assist.
WWYD then asked all the many, many people who stopped and intervened, what they were thinking, and why they stopped to help. One woman replied, “I just see a lot of elderly people on the street, and when I see them, I think, ‘Wow. They’re really alone’ and that bothers me.” How amazing to see! Take that, bystander effect!
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