Blindness: A Social Stimulus for Help?

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A female nondisabled confederate, simulating blindness by using a white cane and dark glasses, repeatedly executed five tasks under four different conditions. The experiment was performed at a metropolitan shopping center. Three conditions were disabled conditions in which the confederate simulated blindness and directly asked for help, did not ask for help, or performed some other task while in the situation. In the one nondisabled condition, the confederate did not request help. The five tasks, which were performed ten times under each condition, were to (a) stand at a bus stop, (b) walk through a door, (c) use a phone, (d) walk through the shopping mall, and (e) walk down a set of stairs. During the disabled conditions, help was received most in the requested help condition, next most in the unsolicited help condition, and the least amount of help was received in the contrasting task condition. No help was received in the nondisabled condition. Help was received most at the bus stop, door, and stairs. These data imply that there are ways that blind individuals can predict and control some parts of their environment as it relates to help.

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