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prase comments on Bystander Apathy - Less Wrong

25 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 13 April 2009 01:26AM

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Comment author: prase 13 April 2009 06:43:16PM 5 points [-]

It's probably because the subject is unable to persuade the confederates to report. With three subjects it is possible that who starts conversation isn't the same person as who finally reports the fire. With only one subject he has to do all himself.

I think the study with confederates investigates the same effect, or at least its "microscopic dynamics" valid for one person separately. Nobody can consciously assume that the other "subjects" know that the smoke is OK. So it must be some kind of bias.

Comment author: JGWeissman 14 April 2009 02:05:51AM 1 point [-]

I would not call correctly deducing that the smoke is OK from the correct perception that the other people in the room are confident that it is OK a bias. The lower rates with the confederates may indicate people have some ability to tell the difference between another person actually believing that nothing is wrong and the other person remaining calm while still considering whether something is wrong. Of course, it would be interesting to know whether this ability comes from talking with the other person or merely observing them.

Generally, when a psychology experiment allows its subjects to find clues about its real purpose, you have to consider the possibility that the results represent the subjects seeing through the experiment.