In this weeks Psychology lecture, I learned of the horrendous murder of Kitty Genovese on March 13, 1964. The New York native was brutally murdered in broad daylight when she exited her car and proceeded to make her way to her apartment which was only a number of feet away.
The interesting part of this tragic story which I found fascinating is that it was reported 38 neighbors witnessed the attack, yet none of them chose to help the victim.
After countless analysis and reenactments of this event throughout the years, conclusions have been established as to why the witnesses did not step forward.
The Bystander Effect is the main conclusion as to why individuals react the way they do in certain circumstances. This theory states that people’s reactions to certain pressurizing or stressful circumstances depend on how many bystanders are present.
If an event unfolds and a large-scale audience witnesses it, there is a higher probability no-one reacts as people don’t feel as much of a responsibility as they would if alone.
However, if you are alone you feel more of an obligation to intervene as there is a less chance of someone else doing so and an increased chance of feeling guilt if you do not act.
The Bystander Effect also intertwines with the idea of Pluralistic Ignorance. This refers to the mentality that if everyone is not reacting to the emergency then that person’s individual help is not needed or as serious as it would be if they were alone.
I found these results intriguing and I have since researched more findings and research in relation to this topic.
In hindsight, yes we can rely on the society around us. However, when in need it is vital to select individuals for assistance if the crowd is large rather than wait for help that may never arrive.