If you saw another person in distress, would you intervene?


One of the more recent topics of psychology 1001 that sparked my interest was the Bystander Effect and social comparison theory, highly researched topics of social psychology. After watching this video, I couldn't believe the amount of people that walked by an injured person and didn't bother to provide assistance.


The group by-stander effect states that the general population is less likely to provide help when people are in groups compared to when people are alone. Often, if other people are present, the responsibility to provide help is divided and consequently, individual responsibility is reduced. This is referred to as the diffusion of responsibility and bystanders frequently and incorrectly assume that someone else will be willing to step in and offer assistance, as in the following cartoon:

bystander effect.jpg

The video also claims that most people simply just don't want to get involved. After hearing that, it made me question the morality of humans and the values each of us holds. Are our work days really that busy that we can't stop and ask someone the simple question, "are you ok?"

I also found it very interesting that while the actor in the video was dressed in torn street clothes, he never really received help. Yet after he dressed in a suit and was considered part of the "in-group", it took less than a minute before several bystanders offered their assistance.

I also am curious to know if the response of a bystander is correlated to the amount of training or skills he or she has. For instance, if a jogger in the park collapses, would a bystander with CPR and first aid training be more likely to respond or would the pressure of the group dynamics win out?


This is very fascinating, i can't believe a person who is business typed dressed recieves help right away then a person with torn clothes. I come from south america, and when i visit my hometown there are a few times when i see random people hurt/or just drunk on the ground and i don't get involved because whereever that occurs its ussually gang banging involved but in a society like ours there is no reason y not to help a stranger.

This is a very interesting concept. I think that it definitely poses the question of people's morality because shouldn't we stop anytime we see someone in need, regardless of if we are with someone or not? I think that either way I would stop because I have been that person that needs help and I know what it feels like to have someone to just walk past. I think that it is always important to check in with those that are close to you or even acquaintances to make sure that they are doing okay because some people are harder to read than others. I think the idea of "we're all in this together" is a very important concept to always keep in mind.

I think the point you brought up about the identity of a person affects the decision making of whether you will help them or not is a big flaw we have in society today. Being at a large university especially makes this point more appealing. Having such a wide base of ethnic backgrounds, religion, and races we need to learn to accept their views and no matter what always look to lend a hand when someone is struggling. We need to always assume when we see someone in danger that they need help, there can never be too much help.

You brought up every point so perfectly. I think it is crazy how people tend to "discriminate" against people who look like they could be homeless. It is very true that many people just ignore those kinds of people, and get to helping those people who look like they are of some "importance." It is truly sad how many people do not seem to have any morals when it comes to helping others. Not everyone is like this, just many. People should treat everyone the way that they want to be treated.

This is really fascinating. I like studying the Bystander Effect because it's such an interesting social phenomena. I think the way to counteract it is to simply be aware of it and take action if you see someone lying on the ground or in need of help.

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This page contains a single entry by janki001 published on April 29, 2012 11:26 PM.

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