Preliminary Study on the Bystander Effect in Second Life

The goal of this future study in Second Life was developed to help understand the question "why does the Bystander Effect happen and under what circumstances is it most likely to occur?" The Bystander Effect is an occurrence in which people will not help someone in need if there are more people present than few. Considering the fact that people are less willing to help someone in the presence of numerous others, researchers at the University College London want to see if this effect will hold true in the virtual world.

Highly detailed avatars, much like those commonly seen in the popular online environment Second Life, will be created and staged in a realistic, virtual world. Participants in the study will be encouraged to interact with other players, building relationships as they would in any social simulation. Then, researchers will use their avatars to commit violent acts against other players in the virtual environment. Levels of protective response, verbal feedback, and other indicators will be tracked and studied to find patterns

Animation experts from Bournemouth University are going to create very detailed avatars. Then researchers at the University College London will use the avatars on Second Life to see why the Bystander Effect happens. The project has not begun yet but is in the process. It started with the grant given to the animation experts from Bournemouth University. They are using this grant to build the highly detailed avatars.

There is no past research on this project, but there is much research literature on the bystander effect. A blog forum that outlines the Bystander Effect Project.