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What Is The Bystander Effect

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On March 13, 1964, a poor bar manager Kitty Genovese was stabbed outside her apartment. The most shocking thing in this case is, during the murder, all the 38 witnesses did not take any measures to help her (Dowd, B04). The reasons why the bystanders behaved indifferently can be explained by a strange phenomenon called the bystander effect in social psychology. The manifestation of this effect is that people are unlikely to help those who are in need if others are on the spots. And what is weirder, is that the more bystanders, the less chance for them to offer their help. This phenomenon is possibly caused by the following four main factors, bystanders’ general characteristics, evaluation from both other bystanders and society, as well as two…show more content…
In most outbreak incidents, bystanders are all strangers to the victims, so their judgment of the surrounding environment and the emergency can be not that clear. On the one hand, as two famous social psychologists, Darley and Latane mentioned in their study about the bystander effect that if bystanders lack understanding of the environment in which the incident happens, they would not know exactly what they could do to handle the situation (128). Perhaps, they are not aware of the locations of nearest first-aid center or police station, so they cannot do the victim a favor. On the other hand, the level of ambiguity of the incident also affects bystanders’ reaction. For example, if you see someone who is drunk and lying on the street, how could you know whether being drunk and laying on the ground is of his own free will, or whether he needs some help after drinking too much. It is really hard for bystanders to understand how urgent and significant the situation is. Normally, people seldom want to get into trouble by getting involved in things that do not concern them. Therefore, with bystander’s general characteristics, bystanders are less willing to offer their
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