Bystander Intervention

Topics: Bystander effect, Experiment, Kitty Genovese, Intervention / Pages: 3 (666 words) / Published: Dec 8th, 2013
Bystander Intervention by Viv Burr
Kitty Genovese – murdered by Winston Mosely in early hours of morning, during March 1964. - 38 people are reported to have heard her cries for help or witnessed part of the event (over 30 minutes), but no-one intervened.
Press coverage of the time suggested failure to intervene was due to the apathy and indifference of New Yorkers (dispositional explanation)
Darley and Latané were not convinced by this view and through a series of lab experiments produced evidence to support a situational explanation. [Note: this is an example of the FAE!!]
In brief:
1. The more people witness an event, the less responsible each individual feels for taking action. There is therefore a diffusion of responsibility.
2. They also argue that there is a diffusion of blame – i.e. when several people are at fault for not intervening, each individual feels they were not to blame for the neglect.
3. If we cannot see the response of other bystanders, then we might legitimately conclude someone else has already gone to the person’s aid.
From this, they predicted that as the number of bystanders increases, the less likely it is than any one of them will intervene, or if they do so, they will intervene more slowly. Their research findings support this hypothesis.
Work is regarded as foundational in the field of bystander intervention. IV = situational factors (group size, participant gender) DV = response (likelihood of and speed of) Lab experiments allow controlled conditions; e.g. by ensuring that many features of real emergencies are controlled for or eliminated, so that only manipulation of the IV has an effect on the DV.
Some things are difficult, if not impossible to control for though – e.g. participant attitudes, societal values of the time, specific personal history of participants and so on.
Unwritten assumption of experimentation is that explanations for social phenomena can be found by examining individual /

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