Falling slowly: A Brief Study On How We Been Trippin’


Kiersten Scott, Reporter

We were walking down the white technology hallway passing by the black Rider logos. I was nervous, and the first participant was too.

“It’s simple,” I said. “The binder is rigged, and when you trip, the papers should fly everywhere.” The bell rang and she walked out into the passing crowd and tripped. Within three seconds someone stopped to help her, and after another two seconds, someone else asked if she was all right. That afternoon when her mom asked what she did, freshman Brooke Leiker said, “Well, today in journalism, I was trippin’.”

Over the last few weeks I set out to test chivalry at Rider and gave four students of different grade, social standing, and gender a fake binder. They had to drop the binder at three different times in three different locations, and I would be a generous distance behind them so as not to appear socially awkward, recording the results.

With a good view of my participant, I counted “Mississippi’s” in time from the drop, until they got help. And I listened for all the comments from the crowd like when an onlooker said, “mm-mmm look at that girl droppin’ all her stuff.”

As a result of this experiment, I found the answer to some important questions, such as where is the worst place in school to trip? The answer: the lunchroom or student center, since only one participant was helped and even then, help was provided by a person walking by, not by anyone sitting down at a table. The participant also noticed that while he was being helped, the helper may have pocketed one of the pencils from the fake binder. This observation was later confirmed by an inventory of the binder taken before and after the experiment.

In that run, I don’t think the pencil was taken due to the helper thinking the participant was an easy target. Research shows it takes seven seconds for a stranger to subconsciously judge you, and out of the situations when strangers helped, it took, on average, 4.3 seconds. Meaning that at Rider, if someone you don’t know helps you pick up your things, they are more likely to do so before they establish a subconscious judgement. Before they know if they like or trust you, they will help you despite your grade, social standing, or appearance. This gave me hope in a generation where I thought chivalry no longer existed.

However, we found that the people at Rider will judge whether to help you based on your gender. This experiment showed that boys at Rider receive more chivalry than girls. Not only did more people help the boys, and most of their helpers were girls, they helped the boys faster as well. The boys who say that chivalry died a long time ago might be right, if you look only at the male half of the generation. Girls seem to pick up the slack, which is a task we do, as the experiment shows very well.

Overall chivalry is still prevalent at Rider, and if you trip and someone comes to help, they will probably do so within three seconds. If no one helps you, you probably tripped in the cafeteria or student center.