From the Bystander Effect Arises Tragedy

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It's easy to think that the bystander effect isn't applicable to modern lives today. As humans, we have a tendency to be overly optimistic in the assessment of our hypothetical action. When we read about the Kitty Genovese's situation, we're quick to distance ourselves from those actions, saying outraged things like "Oh, I would NEVER do something like that."

In actuality, however, those are not isolated incidents as the bystander effect manifests itself in real world situations. To give a quick definition, the bystander effect is the phenomenon that occurs when people do not offer help in emergency situations because other people are present. Oftentimes, people in those situations are less likely to assume responsibility by believing that others will "take care" of the situation. However, when no one assumes responsibility, in the end, no help is offered.

Wang Yue.jpg

Recently, a tragic incident demonstrating the bystander effect triggered international outrage. In the Guangdong province of China, a two-year-old girl--Wang Yue--was crushed by a truck driver and later died of her injuries. The true tragedy was that as Wang Yue lay dying in the street, 18 passerbys skirted around her body without offering any form of emergency aid. In fact, it was after another truck ran Wang Yue over again that a female scavenger eventually helped her by calling emergency services. The entire incident was captured via security cameras and incited a hailstorm of condemnation.

I'll refrain from posting the video here as it is graphic, but the incident demonstrates the tragic aftermath of the bystander effect in the modern world. Furthermore, it horrifically establishes that the bystander effect can occur in everyday situations when we're least expecting it, and with devastating effects. As psychology students, the only way we can truly prevent terrible incidents like this from happening is to be aware of the effects of situations on our behaviors. By becoming aware, we gain the ability to fight these behaviors to make sure another Kitty Genovese or Wang Yue isn't made a victim.


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This was a very interesting blog! I enjoyed hearing your input on the bystander effect too. I was not aware of the story you wrote about, but I am shocked to learn the details of it. I can't believe that so many people would walk past an injured baby without offering any sort of help! I wonder if any more details are yet to come out on this unbelievable story.

This is a very interesting topic and what a horrible accident! I have also learned about the bystander effect in another class. I think it has to do with people being lazy and thinking that someone else will take care of the situation. But I also believe that in a situation like that, people go into shock and don't know what to do, as well as the fear of getting involved and doing something wrong to further worsen the situation. It's difficult to say when you aren't in the moment, but I will definitely be more aware of the bystander effect after learning more about it.

Awesome blog. I never heard about the incident with the poor chinese girl. That is incredibly disturbing. Like you mentioned, I feel like I would never let that happen, however, there is no way to predict my actions when the time actually comes and I am forced to help, or just act like nothing happened. Either way, thats a tragedy that could have been easily avoided with proper action.

Your blog was very interesting. I think that it is strange how humans never assume responsibility, especially in situations like this. You would think that people would jump right away and call the emergency services, but no one seems to do that. Everyone seems to be doing their own thing and too busy to pay attention to what is going on around them, which is sad because this has cost some people their lives.

I've always thought that this was a very interesting topic. We think we will do something in a situation but that is not always true. I think the bystander effect is such a flaw in human evolution. It is crazy to see how your life could be ruined at the hands of society.

This is very interesting! Actually, I watched that video from website. People passed by her doing nothing and just having a look at her. The ignorance from people really surprised me at that time! I think the bystander effect probably can be explained by the fast development of the society and people are cold and selfish. They do not want to get involved in other people's things and they are afraid to have a lot of troubles. All in all, this is a nice blog! Good job!

Wow, that is incredible. I had never heard that story of the Chinese girl, yet it is true. I can even recall times in my life when I have passed by instead of helping. You hit the nail on the head. for some reason I just didn't feel any responsibility to the person and rationalized that someone else was going to help. In reality I have a responsibility to help my fellow man.

This is a very tragic story. After reading your blog, I couldn't believe that nobody would help. I watched the video, and seeing everyone walk by her was just horrible. Of course I think that I would never do something like that, but actually being in that moment is an entirely different situation. I think a lot of it has to do with not wanting to get involved or be responsible or anything. People think that someone else will help, but the people after them see their ignorance and feel like that is the more acceptable response.

It is incredible to think that if something happened to you in a crowd that everyone standing around you might not do anything about it. I can't believe that 18 people walked around this little girl and didn't stop to help her. I thought you did a great job on this blog and I found it to be very interesting.

I found this very upsetting. Its an amazing thing how it becomes acceptable in our minds to ignore situation just for the fact that we can rely on others to do it. Even worst, we all have done it before not to this scale but on smaller scales most people want to not stick out from the group so much that they might end up not doing the right thing. very interesting post, but very sad as well.

This is a very interesting blog post! The story about Wang Yue is amazing and at the same time revolting. It's amazing that something like that can and has happened. I definitely would like to believe that in such a situation I would take the initiative and attempt to help someone in need. However, it also scare me because something similar could happen to me and I might not be able to count on other people to assist me.

Interesting topic! It is a real tragedy that 18 people saw a girl dying on the street and didn't do anything to save her. I think they are selfish and cruel people. I would never do that. Great post!

Interesting topic and, unfortunately, I have seen a video similar to the one this post is describing. It is amazing to me that people can just walk by and not do at least something to help such a young girl from certain death.

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This page contains a single entry by caoxx217 published on April 22, 2012 1:55 PM.

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