The implicit identity effect: Identity primes, group size, and helping


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Mark Levine, Department of Psychology, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YF, UK (e-mail:


Three studies consider the implicit bystander effect in the light of recent advances in social identity approaches to helping. Drawing on the social identity model of deindividuation effects we argue that the implicit bystander effect is shaped not by the number of others imagined, but by who those others are imagined to be. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that, when group membership is primed, increasing group size can facilitate helping in line with the norms and values of the group. Study 3 explores mediation processes in group level helping. As group size increases, female participants react faster to words associated with communalism when others are imagined as women rather than strangers. The paper demonstrates that group size and helping behaviour is qualified by an implicit identity effect.