Nearly 30 years a study was conducted at Princeton University, USA, designed to figure out the conditions under which good people would act for good, or at least be helpful. Two psychologists asked a group of theology students to walk to another building on campus to give a short speech, either about their motives for studying theology or about the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan. Meanwhile, the psychologists had arranged for an actor to be stationed on the path between the two buildings, slumped over, coughing and obviously in bad shape. The two experimenters had also led half the students to believe they were late for their speaking appointment, and half that they had ample time.

So, what do you think the responses were? Who was most likely to help: those with the story of the Good Samaritan uppermost in their mind or those thinking about the motives for studying theology? There was a significance difference between groups, but it was not along the lines of speech content. The content of the speech made no difference. About the same number of Good Samaritan speakers and theology motivation students stopped. What did mid make a difference was how rushed the students thought themselves to be. Only 10 percent of those led to believe they were running late stopped to help. Of those told that they had plenty of time, 60 percent stopped to help.