Our Behavior as Bystanders

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A topic that I have learned in this psychology class that I believe will stick with me for a very long time is the role of social psychology on our behaviors. Our everyday behaviors are influenced by the actions of others more than we might think. I have always thought that our personalities and personal characteristics determine a large part of who we are as individuals and they primarily work to shape our actions and behaviors. I, like many, have fallen victim to the fundamental attribution error, or the tendency to overestimate the impact of personal characteristics on behavior. In reality, the presence and actions of others has a huge role in our behaviors.

A vivid example of this is bystander nonintervention. If a person is in danger, either sick or injured, it is more likely that they will not receive help if there are many people around. This is a very scary circumstance. If all of a sudden we were to become seriously ill while in a public setting, we would want someone to come to our help, and quickly. There are a couple of reasons why people behave this way and don't help the person in danger. First, the witnesses may assume that no one else around perceives that there is something wrong. They have what is called pluralistic ignorance, and will not act to help because since no one else is, there must be nothing wrong with the individual. Secondly, the witnesses share a diffusion of responsibility. Each bystander feels less responsible for the person's safety in the presence of others.

The effects of large groups of people and bystander nonintervention is shown in this video - The Bystander Effect.

Now that we have learned about the effects of social psychology on our behaviors in class, we have a better understanding of how our actions can be altered in the presence of others. Learning about social psychology can help us distinguish situations in our own lives when our behavior may be influenced by other people, and help us intervene as bystanders to help a person in danger.

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For a real-life example of the bystander effect, you might look at the you tube video of the Chinese toddler hit by a truck(I warn you though that it is hard to watch).

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This page contains a single entry by menig001 published on December 4, 2011 2:37 PM.

Psychology I will Remember the Most was the previous entry in this blog.

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