Overview of the Bystander Effect

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Bystander Effect People act differently when they are alone versus when they are in a group. Of course, it would seem logical that when a person is in a group they would act better because people are around, probably some of whom they know, to judge actions. This may be the case for most actions, but a curious psychological response, called the "bystander effect", has been observed which shows a troubling aspect of group behavior. This essay will look at a particular case that started the research into this phenomena, why it happens, and how it is effected by other variables. According to a YouTube video clip (ProtectionNation) exploring the origins of the subject, Kitty Genovese was assaulted in an apartment block while 38 people watched her die in 1964. Her "assailant" took 30 minutes, during which he left the scene two times, to complete his act. The people watched from their homes above the street where the assault took place and the nation wondered how such an atrocious act could take place while so many people watched and not one of them called the police or took another action (ProtectionNation). The video clip included a portion in which one of the original psychologists who researched the case , Dr. Darling, explained why it occurs. He said that complex relationships exist between the people who watched the death, and those relationships, present in any group, were the reason for the failure to act. Much research has been conducted on this effect and some have
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