Be aware to care: Public self-awareness leads to a reversal of the bystander effect
The classic bystander effect stipulates that people help others more when they are alone than when other bystanders are present. We reason that, sometimes, the presence of bystanders can increase helping, notably in situations where public self-awareness is increased through the use of accountability cues (e.g., a camera). We conducted two experiments in which we tested this line of reasoning. In both experiments, participants read messages soliciting support in an online forum. We varied the number of people that were present in that forum to create a bystander and an alone condition. In Study 1, we introduced an accountability cue by making participants' screen-names more salient, and in Study 2, we used a webcam. Both studies indicate that, as expected, the bystander effect can be reversed by means of cues that raise public self-awareness in social settings. âº We study the role of public self-awareness in bystander non-intervention. âº We experimentally vary bystander presence and public self-awareness in two studies. âº The presence of bystanders reduces helping under standard conditions. âº When public self-awareness is high, the presence of bystanders increases helping.