The Bystander Effect

Topics: Bystander effect, Kitty Genovese, Diffusion of responsibility Pages: 4 (1303 words) Published: July 18, 2012
The Bystander Effect
Psy 110 - Asynchronous

The Bystander Effect
If you saw someone being attacked on the street, would you help? Many of us would quickly say yes we would help because to state the opposite would say that we are evil human beings. Much research has been done on why people choose to help and why others choose not to. The bystander effect states that the more bystanders present, the less likely it is for someone to help. Sometimes a bystander will assume that because no one else seems concerned, they shouldn't be (Senghas, 2007). Much of the research that has been done supports this definition of the bystander effect. There have also been recent situations where this effect has proven to be true.

Early research of the bystander effect was done by researchers by the name of Latane’ and Darley. They studied a group of college students. The college students watched strangers on video tapes observing how they respond to someone who is choking. To my surprise they found that when the strangers thought they were the only one around 85% of them helped. When the strangers thought that there was one other person 65% of them helped. Only 31% of the strangers helped when they thought that four other people were around (Senghas, 2007). As astonishing as this research is we witness this type of disregard for other citizens everyday.

A famous true story that showcases how people will ignore someone in need is the story of Kitty Genovese. Genovese was attacked and murdered for 45 minutes in public. More appalling than the murder was the fact that 38 people watched and did nothing (Senghas, 2007). According to the bystander effect if there were fewer people around, Genovese’s life may have been saved. Other researchers have done studies similar to the one that Latane’ and Darley conducted.

In a study of High School and Middle School students, researchers found that High school students were less...

References: Flanagan, C. A. & Stout, M. D. (2009). Code of Silence: Students’ Perceptions of School Climate and Willingness to Intervene in a Peer’s Dangerous Plan. Journal of Educational Psychology © 2009 American Psychological Association, 101 (1), DOI: 10.1037/a0013246
Ridenour, M. (2010, April 26). Bystander Syndrome: Good Samaritan Ignored & Dies in N.Y.C. Retrieved from
Senghas, S. (2007, April 18). The Bystander Effect: Why Don 't We Stop to Help? Retrieved from
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