The Bystander Effect: Why Do We Stand By?

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On March 13, 1964, Catherine Genovese was stabbed repeatedly and killed by a man and it all could have been avoided had the numerous amounts of neighbors, from half a dozen to 30 people, reported the act to the police. The idea that is exhibited in this example is know as the bystander effect. It was once thought that people do not intervene in horrible acts because people were less caring. John Darley and Bibb Latane later said it was due to a feeling frozen in a certain situation. One contribution to this feeling is pluralistic ignorance, which believes that people are not seeing things as we do. This could be in a situation where we understand that there is a need to help someone, while others do not. The second factor that contributes to the "freezing" feeling is diffusion of responsibility. This states that people feel responsible when they are with more people.
Picture of Catherine Genovese

One example that comes to mind is when my family and I traveled to Los Angeles for spring break. We walked down to Venice Beach and along the way we saw a little boy crying and looking around for his family. I watched as numerous people walked by and I also felt "frozen" and did not intervene. However, my brother was willing to ask the boy and his family was near by. An additional example was in the news not to long ago. The video shows a young girl walking on the street in China when a vehicle strikes her and then the driver drives away. Numerous people walk past and do not stop to help the girl as she lies in the street. The bystander effect is sad to me in the sense that people find it difficult to help someone that might be in need and I am curious to why people feel challenged to intervene in maters such as these.

Video for Bystander Effect in China


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I think everyone can say that they have been influenced by the bystander affect. However it is sad that it happens especially in situations where someones life could have been saved. We make our self feel better about not acting by thinking "oh, someone else will do it." But what is more haunting is what if no one does. What will happen to society if people stop caring and helping one another. I think partially we cant help it but I think we should make a greater effort to try and help the next time we find ourselves in this kind of situation.

I agree with this post and comment. The bystander effect can definitely result in tragedy. I think the reasons listed above for why the bystander effect occurs are definitely true but I would like to propose another one. I think that in a dangerous situation, people are afraid to act because they are afraid the violence they just witnessed could happen to them. For example, someone could be afraid of helping a person being beat up because they could be beat up themselves by the attacker. I think it is more likely for someone to help someone else in a dangerous situation if those two people have some sort of relationship between each other.

This is really a bad thing about the bystander effect. I am totally agree with the opinion said in the blog about the reasons for by the effect is happen. About the effect, the bystander should go and help or not is really only related to the personality of the person, there are many society reason for people afraid to go , or afraid of some consequences happened if they go to help.

The bystander effect is something that we all cannot avoid. Whether we like it or not we would still do it when the time comes. I probably would've done the same thing as you had if I saw a boy looking for his family. Also watching the video about the two year old girl made me depressed. Seeing that happen to a little girl and no one helping is depressing. Also to top it off, the person who hit her and drove over her just drove off like they hit a cat or some other animal.

I can't believe that people would just stand by and watch someone die. I feel like a lot of these examples are pretty extreme cases of the bystander effect. I just don't believe that nobody would step in and help if they saw someone get stabbed just because people were around.

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This page contains a single entry by vanre012 published on April 22, 2012 3:03 PM.

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