Out of all the things that I have learned in psychology this year, the topic that stands out the most for me is the bystander effect. This means that when there is an public emergency situation, people often find themselves wanting to help, but they become frozen in place and unable to help. I have witnessed this firsthand when I was on an airplane to Europe a few years ago with my family. A flight attendant came over the loudspeaker in the middle of the flight and asked if there was a doctor on the plane. My dad is a doctor, but he was hesitant to get up and help because he figured that there would be many other people that would offer their help. However, after no one got up to do anything my dad stood up to help the person in trouble. I think that this is interesting because even though my dad is a doctor and deals with patients everyday, he was still hesitant to help the person on the plane because he believed that there would be plenty of other people to help. In this case, it was good that he decided to help the woman because no one else offered their help. Also, one would think that on commercial flight there would be more than one doctor on the whole plane. As the textbook states, there is a danger rather than a safety in numbers. This could be due to the diffusion of responsibility. This means that when there are other people around, people feel less responsible for the outcome of the situation. If my dad had not helped the person on the plane and she ended up getting more sick or even dying, he could have felt that it was not his fault since no one else had helped either. I know I can speak for most people when I say that we all want to believe that we would not fall victim to the bystander effect, but chances are most of us would.
Will you be a Victim of the Bystander Effect?
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