In Groups We Shrink

Topics: Kitty Genovese, Bystander effect, Embarrassment Pages: 3 (972 words) Published: October 6, 2010
Why would eleven police officers watch four of their colleagues administer savage beating to Rodney King and do nothing to intervene? People in groups do not behave morally in groups as they do as individuals. Also people act and think differently when they collect in groups. Carol Tavris, a social psychologist, published an article entitled “In Groups We Shrink” in March of 1991 in the Los Angeles Times. She argues that there are various explanations as to why people behave morally as individuals but not in groups: they approve of what is taking place, they have the fear of being embarrassed or are victims of what psychologist call “diffusion of responsibility”. She believes, however, that fear of embarrassment is the most important explanation. Tavris asserts that people in groups sometimes approve of what is taking place in the group. She writes in her article that eleven police officers watched four of their colleagues administer savage beating to Rodney King but did nothing to intervene. Tavris states, “…There was no mistaking what those officers were doing to Rodney King. There was no way for those observers to discount the severity of the beating King was getting. What kept them silent? ...They may have identified with the abusers, vicariously participating in a beating they rationalized as justified…”. Tavris’ point is that the eleven police officers who stood and watched their colleagues administer savage beating to Rodney King approved of what was taking place and that kept them quiet. It was obvious that the police officers were using excessive force and the beating was getting severe yet the observers found nothing wrong with it because of their approval thus not intervening. Again, we ask the question of why didn't anybody do anything? And the answer is simple, they approved of it. This shows that people in groups approve of what goes on in the groups regardless of the effects. Ultimately, Tavris believes, people in groups keep their silence...
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