meye1816: December 2011 Archives

Remember: Don't Just Walk By

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The thing in Psychology that I will remember the most is bystander nonintervention. Bystander Nonintervention, like the name implies, is when bystanders don't help a person in need. There are many tragic cases where people have been calling for help or have clearly been in danger and observers have done nothing.

One tragic example of bystander nonintervention is the case of Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax. In Queens, New York, Tale-Yax intervened to help a woman who was fighting with another man. The man turned on him and stabbed him. For ninety minutes, Tale-Yax lay in the street bleeding while passersby did nothing. (To read more about this story click here.)

There are many more sad stories like the one of Tale-Yax. Some people blame the non-responsiveness to the fact that people just don't care. However, psychologists believe it is more the result of "psychological paralysis". They give two reasons for why people may not help:

First, they say that it may be a result of pluralistic ignorance. This means that people assume that no one in the group sees things the same as they do. In other words, a person might believe he is the only one who thinks the situation is an emergency or worth intervening. The person thinks that the group is right, so they choose to do nothing about the situation.

Second, they say that bystander nonintervention may be the result of diffusion of responsibiltiy. This means that the presence of others makes each person feel less responsible for the situation. This makes them less likely to help because they think someone else can take care of it.

So bystanders often don't help because other people aren't helping and because they put the responsibility on someone else. I think bystander nonintervention is a scary thing and something I will always remember. It is scary because I hope I am never caught in a situation where bystanders don't help me when I need it. I think I will always remember it because I don't want to be the bystander who just walks by a person in need. I want to help. Hopefully by educating people about bystander nonintervention, less people will just walk by as well.

- The "Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding" Textbook

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by meye1816 in December 2011.

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