If one were to witness another human in a vulnerable position clearly enduring agonizing pain, many humans tend to believe they would rush to help without a single hint of reluctance, however a psychological phenomenon has disproven this common thought. “The bystander effect,” is a theory that further explains the effects and thought process of the human brain. This horrific concept illustrates that when one is surrounded by others, they are discouraged from intervening in a critical, or sometimes even fatal situation. Though this research has led to outstanding breakthroughs in the psychological world, it is one that stemmed from an unfortunately violent attack. Catherine, “Kitty,” Genovese was an American citizen who was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 7, 1935. During the early hours of March 13, 1964, Genovese was brutally robbed, raped, and stabbed inside of her own home.
At 1am on this fatal day, Winston Moseley, a young man who had secretly killed before, drove around for two hours in search for an appropriate victim. It was at this moment when Genovese was returning home from a long day at work, where Moseley discovered his next victim. Moseley deliberately followed Genovese until she heard the footsteps of Genovese slowly increase in sound as he got closer, causing her to frantically run away from her attacker. As the two entered the apartment complex, the aggressor was able to stab her, however the knife was not inserted into a vital body part. As Genovese was still breathing she was able to desperately yell, “Oh God! I’ve been stabbed.” A neighbour, Robert Mozer, witnessed the attack and actually yelled at the man to leave Genovese alone.
The neighbour’s attempt to put this situation at a halt was only successful momentarily as she was able to run away. Unfortunately Moseley was quickly able to catch up and proceeded to rape, stab, and rob forty-nine american dollars from the defenseless Genovese. The victim was left at the foot of the stairs hardly alive. Sophie Farrar, a neighbour and friend, only came to her aid after the events transpired, and held her still, lifeless body until emergency services arrived. The local emergency service were not called until four in the morning, well over thirty minutes after the initial attack. The autopsy of her body entails that she was maliciously stabbed thirteen times.
It was later theorized that had help been contacted after the first attack, Genovese would have most likely survived. The shockingly tragic outcome of this incident is necessary to allude to when talking about the bystander effect, as it was the first notorious real life example that horrified the public. Though the helpless cries of Genovese were heard by many, and no one came to her aid until it was too late. This is a prime example of the bystander effect as no one intervened when witnessing an appalling situation, as they felt as though the responsibility was diffused amongst others who lived in the same apartment complex. This incident occurred in a public area, therefore no one took the initiative to step up as they assumed that someone else has already took on the responsibility of helping out, thus perfectly depicting the bystander effect. Moseley soon confessed to taking the lives of three women, including Kitty Genovese, as well as Leul 3multiple rapes and thefts.
He spent the remainder of his life being imprisoned as he died at the age of eighty-one in prison. Following attack Martin Gansberg released an article titled, “37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call The Police.” Within the article Gansberg writes about how it took over a half an hour for one person to contact the authorities, even though there were thirty seven witnesses. Whether that number is true has yet to be proven, but nonetheless Gansberg’s work really helped create a global interest for what is now known as the bystander effect. This murdercase along with the Gansberg’s piece are two integral components that are responsible for inspiring the public to the push for in depth research of the bystander effect, eventually leading to the the first major experiments.
The bystander or the Genovese effect is a social psychological sensation. The probability of someone helping frequently appears to be inversely related to the amount of bystanders. Therefore as someone is amongst the many of bystanders the likelihood of them interceding are intensely decreased, and vice versa.
This occurrence immensely relies on the presence of multiple factors. The first component is the diffusion of responsibility is obviously present as one is amongst several other witnesses. The diffusion of responsibility is a socio psychological matter where because one is surrounded by various other bystanders, they feel less of an impulse to act. In addition that individual is less inclined to feel regretful of their inaction, as the Leul 4concentration of responsibility on that individual is subconsciously diminished. The next element is the pressure to act in such a way that considers what is determined as socially acceptable. Certain factors of the crisis can dictate whether or not one will intervene.
For example, countless eyewitnesses during the Genovese murder failed to intrude as they presumed the dispute between the aggressor, and the victim was between two lovers. Typically North American societies prompt that a stranger should not involve themselves in others personal matters, if one were to intervene they’d be perceived as behaving in such a way that is considered completely out of line by society. Therefore this assumption, along with the societal cues, consequently not only led to the lack of action, but ultimately the murder of Catherine Genovese. There are two imperative terms that were discovered when studying this effect that strongly correlate to the societal aspect of this phenomenon. The first being pluralistic ignorance which is a term describes the mental process of a bystander during the situation.
In summary pluralistic ignorance is the thought that when one is surrounded by copious other witnesses who lack a reaction, that one is then persuaded to believe that their personal help is pointless. Lastly are bystander fears, this terms eludes that one may be fearful of the possible outcomes when their help is offered, leading them to stray away from offering assistance completely. Some examples Leul 5of internal fears bystanders face are the worry that their assistance be denied, having to encounter any legal circumstances, etc. leading sentence here Bibb Latane and John Darley are social psychologists who were motivated by the Kitty Genovese case to conduct their own research to test the legitimacy of the bystander effect. The first experiment they conducted involved having subjects fill out questionnaires in a room, some subjects were left alone, while others were among two other confederates posing as subjects.
As they began the survey the room would suddenly then fill with smoke. Latane and Darley were able to conclude that a staggering 75% of individuals reported the smoke when alone, whereas only 10% of those who were among the two confederates reported the smoke. The two psychologists then surmised that when encountering a potentially dangerous position if one is surrounded by others, they is subconsciously deduce the risk as those around them do not pay attention to it. Their revelation was then reaffirmed with their following assessment.
Similar findings were detected as the number of those who offered assistance to an injured woman were found to be astonishingly higher when subjects were the only witness, in comparison to those who were among other bystanders, or someone in a superior position. Many of Latane and Darley’s early testings involved similar variables therefore producing the same results time and Leul 6time again. Each experiment required an unaccompanied bystander, or a small group of bystanders, and analyzed their ability to notice danger and to take on the responsibility of some form of assistance.
The psychologies soon acknowledged the redundancy of their work which led to their following study titled, “A Fit to Be Tied.” Rather than what the common concept of their prior experiments, this experiment evaluated how one would react when in a predicament, when they are aware that people are around however they cannot see nor hear these people. While teaching an introduction to psychology course the two psychologist decided to place students into cubicles, as told them they would be having an anonymous conversation regarding stress. The subjects thought they were listening to real people when in actuality they were hearing pre-recorded tapes. The tapes were arranged to play a recording of someone crying for help, as they are experiencing an epileptic seizure.
Prior to this students were informed how many other students were in the room. In addition Latane and Darley would constantly alter certain conditions, for example they would alter the gender of participants, would have people who possess and extremely close friendship, as well as those who have barely exchanged words to each other, to endure this crisis. Through this experiment Latane and Darley were able to discovered the following results, 95% of the students replied within the first three minutes, and 85% of individuals were swift to act promptly, while 31% of those who believed they were Leul 7amidst four other bystanders did so. An astonishing 100% of those who experienced this situation along with a close friend acted.
It was also noted that the sex of bystanders did not impact the outcome.