Yousef Erakat, a YouTube user, decided to find out how the public would react to a child abduction scenario by creating a social experiment.

In the video The Kidnapping Children Experiment, inspired by Erakat's fear of being abducted when he was young, he approaches members of the public and asks for help.

The child, played by an actor called Nathan, goes up to several adults and tells them a man is trying to put him in his car. In a terrified voice, he asks them to phone his mother. Moments later, a man appears and claims to be the boy's father, trying to take him away.

Frequently, the public failed to react to the danger the boy could be in. On one occasion, however, a woman pepper-sprays the false kidnapper. The cameraman is forced to reveal the situation was a social experiment, for fear of further damage.

The experiment is similar to the so-called "bystander effect" - a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer help to a victim in the presence of other people. In Erakat's video, one man actually shakes the hand of the supposed kidnapper.

The footage is posted on the YouTube account FouseyTUBE.

An introduction says: "Growing up my biggest fear was getting kidnapped.

"I would get home early from school and sit on my front lawn until my parents came home because I felt like someone was inside my house waiting for me.

It adds: "This video was a way for me to express that fear in an artistic way and also spread positive change as to why it is important to act when put into these types of situations."

Erakat, 24, achieved considerable internet notoriety last year when his video The Bullying Experiment went viral. Similar to his latest post, it shows people failing to intervene as one man bullies another.