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Overcoming Bystander Apathy and Non-Intervention in Alcohol-Poisoning Emergency Situations: Advancing Field Testing of Training-for Intervention Theory via Thought Experiments


  • Carol M. Megehee

    (Wall College of Business Administration, Coastal Carolina University, U.S.A.)

  • Sandra K. Strick

    (School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, University of South Carolina, U.S.A.)

  • Arch G. Woodside

    (Carroll School of Management, Boston College, U.S.A.)


Consider groups of partying college students failing to helpfully assist someone in life-threatening distress from alcoholic poisoning. Anecdotal evidence (Davis and DeBarros, 2006) supports the social-norming theory subfield of unresponsive bystander research by Latane and Darley (1970) and others (Cialdini and Goldstein, 2004). This article is a call for structurally transforming the dynamics of the unfolding dramas in natural groups where alcoholic poisoning leading to death occurs. The present article includes the proposal for a quasi-experiment of natural groups (members of fraternities and sororities) in naturally occurring contexts (party situations) using placebo, a standardized training for intervention programs for servers (TIPS) designed for peer intervention, and two versions of advanced TIPS designed to structurally introduce a designated interventionist (DI). The DI and DI training designs are crafted to overcome the unresponsive bystander effect. The proposal includes thought experiments to explain both short- and long-term dependent measures of program impact in such quasi-experiments that include immediate measures of alcohol drinking and intervention knowledge, the medium-term creation and assignment of a group DI position, and the long-term interventionist behavior of groups appointing persons holding DI appointments versus groups not making such appointments.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol M. Megehee & Sandra K. Strick & Arch G. Woodside, 2012. "Overcoming Bystander Apathy and Non-Intervention in Alcohol-Poisoning Emergency Situations: Advancing Field Testing of Training-for Intervention Theory via Thought Experiments," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 11(2), pages 93-103, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ijb:journl:v:11:y:2012:i:2:p:93-103

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    Cited by:

    1. de Villiers, Rouxelle, 2015. "Consumer brand enmeshment: Typography and complexity modeling of consumer brand engagement and brand loyalty enactments," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(9), pages 1953-1963.

    More about this item


    alcoholic poisoning; thought experiments; training;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles


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