1. Determine an experiment. Must be somewhat mild. Cannot fight or pretend to need medical attention.Conduct the experiment twice. You need to create a situation where you are in need of some help – bloody nose, dropped a bunch of papers, crying on a park bench, toilet paper stuck in pants/shoes, have car trouble. You cannot ask for help, you have to allow people to offer it. You want to see if people will help you or will they be a bystander like the research predicts.
  2. Make a predication on the outcome of the experiment. Will people help you or not?
  3. DO EXPERIMENT 2X: First, with 3 or less bystanders because the research indicates that a person is more likely to help. Then, with 4+ bystanders because the more bystanders the more responsibility to help is diffused.
  4. Write down how many people “see” the you need help versus how many help. You may have to ask a friend to stand/hide on the side and count the number of people who look over and pass by. Just count the number of people who seem like they saw you.
  5. Ask any “helpers” why they decided to help and any other questions you want them to answer about their habits of helping.
  6. In your post, summarize your experiment and the results. How many people helped versus how many bystanders? What was your reaction to the results? Why do you think people avoid helping others in need? Does the social norm of “not helping and minding your own business” make the helper the deviant? Have you ever seen someone who needs help, but you didn’t offer help? Why did you not help? Did you feel awkward as if you were breaking a rule? If you did, then it should make sense, right? Deviance in this case is breaking the norm of doing nothing! Laslty, how does the bystander effect and diffusion of responsibility explain why there are such high victimization rates in the US, why there is world wide poverty, why more than 11 million people were murdered by Hitler and little was to stop him, at least for the first few years?


Ever wonder why people can’t resist a temptation? Whether the temptation is buying something new than we can’t afford or ditching class to sleep in, these deviant behaviors are linked to one’s ability to delay gratification. This fascinating article and video highlight research on delayed gratification and deviant behaviors.

Read the article on the Stanford Marshmallow Study. Then, watch the clip below.
Marshmallow Study Video:–w

Respond to the a few of the following questions to start an interesting discussion on this topic.

What does this study reveal about deviant behavior? What does the statement “eat the marshmallow” mean in reference to our culture? What are some values and norms that promote eating the marshmallow? What are some values and norms that promote delayed gratification? How do “people who eat the marshmallow” contribute to social instability? How can society strive to regain balance? What are some ways that you have recently eaten the marshmallow? How have you also delayed gratification? After reading the details of the study and watching the clip, how will you discipline your children or teach them self control, (if plan on having any children)?

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