Incident evaluations show that bystanders tend to help: they do not wait for professionals to arrive, but act as required by the situation at hand. In the present study, we investigated how safety awareness (induced before an accident happened) and providing a course of action by emergency services affect helping behavior after witnessing a virtual accident with two victims. The main task of the participants was to arrive at a job interview in time. Safety awareness was manipulated by the specific organization they went to: either promoting safe traffic or healthy living. The results show that all participants were inclined to help. Participants who were primed towards safe traffic more often called the emergency number, but talked to the victim less often. Participants who had received specific courses of action moved the victim less often. In all, the results clearly indicate the value of effective risk communication (before an event occurs) and crisis communication (after an event has occurred), as both types of information improve the quality of actual helping behavior at the scene.
Stubbe, H. E., van Emmerik, M. L., & Kerstholt, J. H. (2017). Helping behavior in a virtual crisis situation: effects of safety awareness and crisis communication. Journal of risk research, 20(4), 433-444. https://doi.org/10.1080/13669877.2015.1071865