The experts, at the University of Southern Brittany in France, recruited eight young men and women volunteers and told them to stand outside either a bakery or a clothes boutique. The volunteers pretended to be looking for something in their bags as they stepped in front of a passing shopper. As they walked a few feet in front of the shopper, the participants dropped a glove, handkerchief or packet of tissues.
The experiments – which were repeated up to 400 times – found that when the volunteers dropped the items outside the bakery, 77% of passers-by stopped and helped recover the lost items and hand them back to their owner. Outside the clothes shop only 52% of strangers helped.