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Bystander Effect: How willingly would you help someone in need? 

Will the probability of getting helped increase with more people around? The Bystander effect tells you otherwise.

What would you do if you are stuck in a problem (maybe an accident) on a busy road?

Would you feel lucky to be on a busy road as you can expect help from more people? Do you think that the presence of more people around increases your chances of getting help? Well! You might be wrong about your assumption.

On 13th March 1964, a 28 year old woman (Kitty Genovese) was raped and brutally stabbed outside her apartment by Winston Moseley. All this happened while 38 people heard her screams and did nothing as reported in the New York Times. So, were all 38 people too scared to help? Or they all were not moral enough to care? 

The diffusion of Responsibility –

The murder of Kitty Genovese sparked curiosity of social psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latane who later published their study “Bystander Apathy” in the “American Scientist”. They did numerous experiments on people and found out about the Bystander phenomenon. According to which, if there are more people present in the area where somebody needs help, an individual is less likely to help the victim and even if people help, they are not quick in their response. This is called the “Diffusion of Responsibility”

If there are more people around an individual will feel less sense of responsibility and high uncertainty while making a decision.  

But! Here’s a twist 

Regarding the murder case of Kitty Genovese, it was later revealed that the numbers were over exaggerated and were not properly checked before publishing. And there was no evidence of 38 people being present near the crime scene and being inactive. Sophia Farrar who lived across the hall from Genovese came for her help, despite the potential danger. She yelled for neighbours, called for police and medical aid. But then, why did people act in favour of the Bystander Effect during the experimentation of John Daley and Bibb Latane?

The answer was/is “Uncertainty”. (Also because Bystander Effect is a real thing). Uncertainty about results and uncertainty about the consequences. So, How to ask for help on a busy road? By sparking the sense of responsibility in them or by eliminating the diffusion of responsibility. For that to happen, call for specific people to help. Because they are not immoral, they are just uncertain. And when it comes to your turn to help, do not hesitate to step out of uncertainty and step into a necessary trouble. 

Also Read – How Cartoons became a medium of Allied Propaganda during the Second World War?

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