Latene and Darley (1970) formulated a five-stage model to explain why bystanders at emergencies sometimes do and sometimes do not offer help. An alternative cognitive theory is the Cost-Benefit Model developed by Piliavin (1981) to explain the results of helping behaviour studies. This theory suggests that whether we help or not depends on the outcome of weighing up both the costs and benefits of help. The Piliavin model has been supported by number of studies, which demonstrated that increasing various costs would lead to a decrease in helping, whilst increasing the benefits will lead to an increase in helping. The idea of the Cost- Benefit Model was to predict how likely that someone would help or not help. A study by Piliavin (1969) had student experimenters pretend to collapse in subway train compartments.
The experimenters sometimes wore a jacket, which smelt very strongly of alcohol, they carried a bottle of alcohol in a brown paper bag. Some of the experimenters carried a cane. The help was offered more to the person carrying the cane up against the man who smelt of alcohol. (20% compared with 90% within the first 70 seconds) If we relate the Cost-Benefit Model to this study was can predict the cost to the helper would be higher and benefits would be lower in the case of the drunk compared to the person with the cane. If you help the drunk the costs of helping would by higher because the drunk could turn violent, or throw up on you, he could damage your clothing. Helping could make you late for work.
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The benefits on helping would be low; the drunk would be unlikely to thank you for your help. You are unlikely to get any social approval for helping a drunk. Some people may see that the drunk’s condition is self-inflicted. You would be unlikely to get any feelings of elation at helping a drunk. However, regarding the person with the cane the costs of helping would be lower, because the person carrying the cane would be less likely to turn violent or damage your clothing. It would not actually hurt you to help this person.
The benefits of helping this person would be high because the person may thank you, you would get social approval, and your self-esteem would increase the feeling that you are a kind person. We can say that the Cost-Benefit Model would predict that the cost would be high in the case of the drunk and the costs would be low in the case of the person with the cane. The benefits would be low in the case of the drunk and the benefits would be high in the case of the person with the cane. Darley and Batson (1973) carried out a study at a building where students were asked to give a talk either on the ‘Good Samaritan’ or about ‘Jobs mostly enjoyed by seminary students’. Each student was told whether they had plenty of time, were on time, or were late when walking to the near by building where the seminar was taking place.
All students passed a (confederate) man slumped in a doorway appearing to be unwell. The results show of the students who had plenty of time 63% of them helped the slumped man, of the students who were on time 45% of them helped and the students who were late only 10% of them helped. If we relate the Cost-Benefit Model to this study, we can see that the cost of helping was higher from the students who were late up against the students who had plenty of time and of those who were on time. Time played an important part in whether the students would help. The cost was higher to the late students because they would be even later for the seminar. Other costs to all the students could be that they may be at risk from the man turning violent, helping the collapsed man may be physically demanding.
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The benefits of helping would be that the collapsed man may have died- you saved his life. We may get social approval. I. e. thanks from the victim and public. You may feel that you are a kind person.
We can say that the Cost-Benefit Model would predict that the costs would be high where the time factor is an issue. Darley and Latene (1968) carried out another study on helping behaviour. Male students were seated in cubicles connected by an intercom system. The students were led to believe that they were either alone with one other participant, or that they were joined by either one or four other participants.
Once the discussion was underway, the (confederate) victim clearly announced that he was experiencing a seizure. There was less help when participants thought that there were more helpers present. If we use the Cost-Benefit Model to analyse this study we can say that the cost of helping would be low. It was clear that the victim was unwell, you were unlikely to be injured, or abuse by the victim, if you did not help, and perhaps no one else would help.
Your time was not an issue, because you had already agreed to give your time to the study. The benefits would be high because you may have saved the victims life. You may have received social approval and your self-esteem would increase. We should understand that what may seem as a high cost to one person may be a low cost to another person and visa-versa, and this may differ for the same person, from one situation to another situation.
The Cost-Benefit Model assumes on economic view of human behaviour, people are motivated to maximize rewards and minimize costs.