redi0069: April 2012 Archives

A fascinating part of psychology is the idea that safety in numbers is just a myth. I was astounded to learn that it doesn't help to have more people near you in the scene of an accident. Three factors transforming witnesses into oblivious bystanders are the bystander effect, pluralistic ignorance, and diffusion of responsibility. The bystander effect describes the feeling of being frozen in place despite a desire to help. Pluralistic ignorance causes a person to believe that he or she is the only one that sees the situation in a frightening way. So when a person with pluralistic ignorance sees an emergency when nobody else is reacting to it, he or she thinks that there must be nothing amiss. The final factor, diffusion of responsibility, describes the feeling that one is less responsible for another person's misfortune if others are around to share the blame. This is troubling but true, that even I am less willing to help another just because I am less likely to be blamed if I don't. It seems like people should help others regardless of whether they will be blamed if they don't. The fact that this isn't true shows the laziness in human nature.

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