A man, walking with a crutch, falls down. Would you help? Of course, you say? Would the man’s appearance matter?
Be honest now.
Diego Dolciami and Matteo Moroni of DM Pranks decided to stage a social experiment in Italy. They filmed two scenarios: the first was with a well-dressed “businessman” in a suit. The second was with a homeless man in ragged clothing, carrying what seems to be his whole worldly possessions. In both instances, the men walked with a cane and fell down in front of strangers (both men and women).
Then, Dolciami and Moroni watched whether passers-by would help. They repeated the experiment 10 times each, and came to this shocking – or, depending on your point of view, obvious – conclusion that our decision to help someone in need is absolutely colored by our judgment of that person.
In 10 out of 10 cases, the businessman was helped by passers-by. But only 2 out of 10 instances was the homeless man rescued. Some people saw the homeless man fell down but hesitated to help, some approached but backed away when they saw the ragged clothings, and some didn’t even stop at all.
Before you tsk, tsk-ed the choice of the people in the video clip, ask yourself what you would do. Would you be afraid that the homeless man might be crazy and try to hurt you if you tried to help? Maybe he’s dirty and smelled bad?
What would you do?