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The Kindness of Strangers

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Fania Rahma

on 13 November 2013

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Transcript of The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers
About the Article
Robert V. Levine (a professor and a researcher)
American Scientist magazine published in volume 91 edition May-June 2003
Article written in May-June 2003

New York vs Rangoon
New York :
Six years old; walking with father on a crowded midtown street
a man lying unconscious against the building
day's lesson as a primer for urban adaption
Rangoon :
a man carrying a huge bag of peanuts called out in pain and fell to the ground
half of dozen sellers ran to help
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Question: In which cities is a person need likely to receive help?
first studies in early 1990s :
Students and I visited 36 cities of various sizes different region in U.S.
Small and medium-sized cities in the Southeast were the most helpful; large Northeastern and West Coast cities were the least.
Question: How do big-city dwellers from various countries compare? How does New York measure up to other large cities worldwide?
To answer:
six summer; more than 20 other adventurous students; five experiments; around the world.
300 trials of helpfulness
Including feigning blindness; dropping more than 400 pens; approaching some 500 people while pretending to have hurt leg or to be in need of change, and strategically losing 800 letters.
Problems in Translating the Experiments
The lost-letter test was the most troublesome:
In Tel Aviv, unclaimed packages have all too often contain bombs
local mailboxes are either unattended or nonexistent
The asking-for-change experiments encountered problems in translation:
The need for coins has disappeared
In Tel Aviv, no one understand why a person might require small change
Others, afraid to exchange any money with strangers
The Findings
Rio de Janeiro, San Jose (Costa Rica), Lilongwe, Madrid and Prague - helped the pedestrian across the street on every occasion; Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok were the least
Two highest-ranking cities are in Latin America: Rio and San Jose
Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking cities
Brazilian word called "simpatico"- to be friendly, nice, agreeable, and good-nature, a person who is fun to be with and pleasant to deal with.
Its a social quality
Notable trends of helpful cities:
low economic productivity
cities with slow pace of life
cultures that emphasize the value of social harmony
News about New York
New Yorkers placed 22nd in the list of 23
22nd whether people would retrieve a dropped pen or assist someone with a hurt leg
13th in helping blind person to cross the street

A special Attitude?
New Yorkers good reasons for their reluctant to help strangers:
had been taught early that reaching out to people you don't know can be dangerous
strangers might not want unsolicited help; be afraid of outside contact or might feel patronized or insulted.
Noteworthy study results:
The location where one was raise has less to do with helping than the place once currently lives
There are ways to modify the environment so as to encourage it
inducing a bit of guilt - by making people aware that they could be doing more
increasing personal accountability - by getting people to address one another by name
By: Turki, Omar, Yi Li, Fania, Tunde
Discussion Questions
Have you ever helped strangers in your cities before? Yes or No? And Why?

Would a country with strong religious beliefs going to be different from the studies result?
Do you agree with the reasons New Yorker gave for not helping strangers? Why?
Do you consider any values in the stranger when you are trying to help them in your culture?
If the five experiments had happened in your country, what would be the results are?
The Findings
Full transcript