Identity and Emergency Intervention: How Social Group Membership and Inclusiveness of Group Boundaries Shape Helping Behavior

By Mark LevineAmy ProsserDavid EvansStephen Reicher
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Two experiments exploring the effects of social category membership on real-life helping behavior are reported. In Study 1, intergroup rivalries between soccer fans are used to examine the role of identity in emergency helping. An injured stranger wearing an in-group team shirt is more likely to be helped than when wearing a rival team shirt or an unbranded sports shirt. In Study 2, a more inclusive social categorization is made salient for potential helpers. Helping is extended to those who were previously identified as out-group members but not to those who do not display signs of group membership. Taken together, the studies show the importance of both shared identity between bystander and victim and the inclusiveness of salient identity for increasing the likelihood of emergency intervention.