The Murder of Kitty Genovese

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The thirteenth chapter in the Lilienfeld textbook focuses on social psychology. This type of psychology can be defined as the study of how people influence others' behavior, beliefs, and attitudes--for both good and bad (Lewin, 1951). The chapter goes into much detail on several psychological terms that stuck out to me, such as mass hysteria, groupthink, obedience, the bystander effect, and cognitive dissonance. Also, there are detailed descriptions of experiments or past events in history that can be viewed as examples of the psychological terms listed. For example, I found the tragic story of the murder of Kitty Genovese to be quite interesting but disturbing.
Catherine (Kitty) Genovese was only 28-years-old when she was murdered on March 13, 1964, at 3:00 A.M. Kitty was only returning from work to her apartment in New York City when a random man attacked her and began to stab her repeatedly. She screamed and pleaded for help during the attack but her neighbors failed to come to her rescue. Several of the neighbors turned on their lights because they heard the attack, but nobody called the police or came to her aid. Kitty was found dead later after the attack. This disturbing story is an example of the bystander effect because since there were a great number of people that overheard the attack, people were less likely to help Kitty. It is possible that the people wanted to help Kitty but they found themselves too frozen to help, or figured that someone else would intervene by coming to her aid or calling the police. Why do people seem to do more bad than good in situations such as this one?

For more information on Catherine (Kitty) Genovese and her murder click on this link.


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It's amazing how common this is! Just googling bystander effect will amaze you with the number of cases where people watch and do nothing. Someone just told me a story about how they were driving and witnessed a person hijack a car... Did they call the police? Nope just kept on driving. They even talked briefly with the other person in the car about it and still decided not to.

I’ve heard of this before, this story is terrifying. Her neighbors could have potentially saved her life but instead each one has to live with the burden that they could have done something. I think it’s obvious that it’s better for the police to get a hundred phone calls about the same thing than none at all. It reminds me of being in huge lecture halls here and the professor makes a mistake but no one points it out even if they notice. I think the number of people definitely effects people’s decisions to speak up.

That is interesting about the lecture halls when the teacher makes a mistake. I notice things like that a lot but I never point it out to the teacher because I do not like to speak up like that. I feel like in a situation where someone is in danger is a different story. I don't know how people can just go on with their lives when they know that something bad is happening. The bystander effect is a very interesting topic to learn about.

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This page contains a single entry by warf0035 published on January 25, 2012 10:37 PM.

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