What Is the Bystander Effect

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Rebecca Aspinwall
Professor Patrick Shal
11/05/2012
What is The Bystander Effect?
Dr's John M Darley and Bibb Latane are both professors of psychology. Even though they have not attended or worked at the same university, their credibility is equally the same. Their award-winning research was gathered to complete their essay "Why Don't People Help in a Crisis," they suggest the probability of a bystander helping is correlated to the number of bystanders present. Next Darley and Latane state that, "there are three things a bystander must do to intervene in an emergency." First the bystander must be aware of the situation, second the bystander has to establish if the situation is an emergency, and then third they have to decide if it is their duty to intervene and help the person in need (141). Darley and Latane have done an exceptional job on informing the reader, however, their research fails to take into account outside variables which may call into question the validity of their research.

The language used in this essay by Darley and Latane “Why Don’t People Help in a Crisis” is emotional to say the least. One of the examples used to inform their readers of the bystanders actions demonstrates their use of emotional appeal with language. Making the subjects relive others horrific situations, the authors are able to portray in an emotionally packed explanation of what happened to the victim in each narrative. For example the first victim they mention, is Kitty Genovese, who was murdered in her home in Kew Gardens, New York. Thirty eight of her neighbors watched her die without helping or even calling nine-one-one (140). This emotional technique is effective, because the initial impact of this heinous act grabs the reader’s attention heightening their arousal. The residual effects are intended to make the reader feel sympathy for the victim. Thus taking a more shock and awe approach the authors use emotional language to engage the reader into the...
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