In this world, many people consider themselves “Good Samaritans”—bystanders who would be willing to help victims in an emergency situation. Especially if paramedic response time is slow, this aid can be the difference between life and death. However, relatively few victims actually receive bystander support in any form on the streets, and it can vary significantly depending on a victim’s appearance. This study examines 1) whether a bystander’s knowledge of state law regarding bystander response affects their willingness to offer assistance and 2) how gender response differs when a victim’s profile changes. In response to a hypothetical situation, notable findings include: almost no difference between reminders of different laws, significant difference in a bystander’s fear depending on victim profiles, and lower rates of bystander response in female participants. We were also able to show the bystander effect through a hypothetical situation, thereby widening methodological options for further research.
Last summer, one of my friends was complaining about California's Good Samaritan Law, and I began thinking about the benefits and drawbacks of different laws that protect civilian bystanders during a medical emergency. As I continued to research, I noticed that psychological journals focused on how bystanders react and law reviews analyzed different bystander laws, but none connected the two fields by analyzing how law types affect bystanders' reactions. AAR has offered me a community to express myself academically and better understand my interests.