Emergencies amplify individual tendencies to behave selfishly or prosocially

Emergency situations amplify individual tendencies to behave egoistically or prosocially

The willingess to cooperate depends on the personality of an individual. This is especially true in dangerous situations where assistants have to take risks themselves. Credit: danleap / istockphoto

In emergency situations people think only of themselves? In a study published in Scientific Reports researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development have shown that willingness to help depends largely on the personality. The results show that most people help others in emergencies, some of them even more than harmless everyday situations.

It is said that people show their true colors in times of adversity. In a recently published study, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development found that extreme conditions test the goodness of people and the poor. In their experiments, the pro-social and altruistic, in particular, often helped others even in an emergency situation in a relaxed and non-threatening situation, while participants became less selfish cooperative. “Emergency situations seem to amplify the natural tendency of people to cooperate,” says Mehdi Moussaïd, a researcher at the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

Researchers invited 104 participants represent scenarios in a computer game who have developed specifically for the experiment. In this “dilemma game help-or-flight,” participants under time and monetary pressure had to decide whether they were willing to risk taking the time to help others before reaching your goal or to save themselves in two situations: a different day and an emergency situation. After the game, the researchers measured social value orientation of participants is concern for others, and classified as having a pro-social or individualist profile.

The first stage was an everyday situation in a train station. The aim of the players was to catch a train. The time available for the game was 60 seconds. Participants were able to control the train won a bonus of 1 euro; there was no penalty for failure. On his way to the platform, participants other eight passengers each needed help finding his own train gathered. Participants chose between a button or a button to help to end the game ( “escape”), which actually would have corresponded to heading straight to the train platform. If you would succeed in catching his train in time, however, it was determined randomly by the computer, depending on the point at which the participants left the game. Ending the game early increased the chances of success. The more people who helped and the more time passed, the chances of the lowest of the participants to win the game.

The second scenario was an emergency situation in a train station . After an explosion, the participants had to leave the building as quickly as possible. This time, I only had 15 seconds to escape, and that he risked losing 4 euros if it does out of the building in time. There was no premium on success. To emphasize the alarming nature of the situation, the researchers added a flashing red frame to the computer screen. Again, participants found with eight other travelers who were each in need of help, and the procedure was otherwise the same as in the first scenario.

Overall, participants helped others unless in an emergency situation due to time pressure they were under. However, when the researchers focused on individual participants, they found that many of those classified as pro-social were most useful in emergency situation: 44% of them were ready to assist in emergency in everyday situation. The opposite occurred with participants categorized as individualists, 52% of which reduced their cooperative behavior in the emergency situation.

“Our game-based approach offers a new way to study human cooperation and could help authorities to manage behaviors massive crowds during emergencies,” says Mehdi Moussaïd.

“Emergencies amplify individual tendencies to behave selfishly or prosocially ” is replublished article from medicalxpress.com here: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-09-emergency-situations-amplify-individual-tendencies.html