The Bystander Effect

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The bystander effect occurs when individuals do not bother to offer help to victims in an emergency situation while other people are also present. As the number of other people present increases, the likeliness of a bystander helping a victim decreases. One of the explanations for this is that with so many others around, individuals feel less responsible to help the victim. Other explanations include pluralistic ignorance and social influence, where individuals monitor the reactions of the rest of the crowd as the norm reaction. One infamous example of the bystander effect occurred in Paris, France in January 2006. Ilan Halimi, a wealthy French Jew, was kidnapped by a group of Moroccans called "The Barbarians" and tortured for 24 days. The kidnappers did this for the sake of receiving a 450,000 euro ransom. Throughout the 24 days of torture, multiple neighbors heard the commotion, but none called the police. Some instead watched and even joined in the torturing. On February 13, Ilan was left outside of Paris, tied to a tree. Body parts were missing and his body was difficult to even recognize. He was found but he died on the way to the hospital. This may be a severe case, but it shows how powerful the bystander effect can be. So what would you do, ignore the cries and fall in with the crowd or be the Good Samaritan?


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People should help each other when they are in danger. The effect of the bystander should be decreased and more people should be brave enough to help people in emergency situations.


It is hard to know how I would respond to a situation like this. I would hope that I would call for help, but if I am like most people, then I wouldn't. As more people become aware of the bystander effect, hopefully the less often an event like Ilan's occur.

This is especially seen in crime shows and movies where the cops/detectives are shocked when they hear that so many people heard the screams, saw the crime, etc. but didn't do anything. It was interesting to learn why this actually happens and that it actually does happen in real life.

I find this article very interesting because I find it to be true in most cases. When people see a certain situation and there are a lot of other people there they just feel that someone else will help out.

It's almost like we need someone else to acknowledge the abnormality of a situation before we perceive it ourselves. If everyone else is behaving as though something is normal, it's like there's a system inside of us that's programmed to follow suit. Maybe that's how the internal barometer that gauges normal vs. abnormal actually works: by detecting the reactions of others.

I think by learning more about the bystander effect, people can really learn how to prevent it from happening. I know that when someone is in danger/an emergency situation and there are a plethora of people around, I will now be more likely to help them than to just stand by knowing that other people are less likely to help them. It's odd to think that this happens that way, but if you think of previous examples in your mind of things like bullying, you can really see this effect come into play.

Interesting post and I'll stop to observe next time im in a situation like that!

Although I want to think that I am caring person and different from my peers and would in the case of an emergency help someone I probably am not. We all like to take the easy way out and assume that we don't have to do something directed to the masses because someone else will probably step up but as this blog explains that is not all ways the case. We as a society need to be more helpful to each other.

Wow. I hadn't really thought about how likely the effect would be in real life before reading this, but it makes sense that people will think that others will react for them.

don't they even say you should yell fire! instead of rape! if you are being attacked ??

or did i just see that in a movie ? either way the bystander effect is very chilling to me. It's very troubling that no one will help, but I think it goes back to the do as we see others do. The larger the crowd, the more new comers to the crowd see that every one is doing nothing, so they do nothing too.

very scary.

This seems terrible, but the fact we feel less responsible seems logical. I feel like people in general are happy to pass off any responsibility they can to another. Whether its a midnight shift, a problem with their car, or even making a meal. We feel like it's worth not doing something if we can afford to not do it. In this case, with so many people around everyone would just pass on by, expecting someone else to take care of the issue.

I think we like the thought of helping others when we see someone hurt or in an emergency, but it's true that the bystander effect occurs more often than not. I always thought that people who stood by and just watched a terrible situation happen were either just frozen in shock and couldn't do anything or that they were just curious and chose to watch rather than act. But I agree that the most common reaction/justification of the bystander effect is that most people think that it's not their issue to take care of and that eventually someone else will help out the person in need.

This discussion has always been very interesting to me. When I was first asked this question I automatically assumed that when the crowed is bigger the better help the person in need would get. I remember being in surprise when I heard otherwise. All in all I feel like even when you think others are around and that they will help, you should also pitch in to make sure just in case. There are so many other cases where things have happened and no one has reported them because they thought others would.

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This page contains a single entry by kinc0027 published on April 22, 2012 11:21 PM.

What's With This IAT Test? was the previous entry in this blog.

Causes of Bystander Nonintervention is the next entry in this blog.

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