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Ever witnessed The Bystander Effect?

The bystander effect is the somewhat controversial name given to a social psychological phenomenon in cases where individuals do not offer help in an emergency situation when other people are present. The probability of help has in the past been thought to be inversely proportional to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help.
Some well known cases are ~
The Holocaust
Kevin Carter's photo of the young girl, who he did not help

The recent Richmond High School horror (girl being gang raped, with 20+ fellow students watching)


Asked by Anonymous at 12:24 AM on Mar. 30, 2010 in Politics & Current Events

This question is closed.
Answers (21)
  • I have never witnessed it, but I've seen incidents like those in the news a lot. They always horrify me. I can't imagine being paralyzed by my fear of looking stupid when watching something bad happen to someone else.

    Do you think if one person stepped forward to help that more would follow, or would they all just stand there still?

    And have you ever heard that if you were to ever be raped to yell "FIRE!" instead of "RAPE!"? The theory on that is similar... that people want to be the hero to save someone from a fire, but no one wants to save a woman from being raped.

    Answer by Ati_13 at 12:31 AM on Mar. 30, 2010

  • Ugh! I have such a difficult time looking at that Kevin Carter photo. It gets me every time.

    As for the question, not that I can recall. I'll keep thinking on that, though. I did see the opposite, once. In a rarely-used hallway in my high school, a friend and I came across a girl being badly beaten by her boyfriend. He was beating her face into the door hinges. Three guys were walking down the hall behind me and saw it at about the same time. Not only did they step in, they put the abusive boyfriend into the hospital for 2 weeks.

    Answer by DusterMommy at 12:30 AM on Mar. 30, 2010

  • Oh god, I shouldn't have looked at that photo... I'm seriously sobbing my eyes out right now :(

    Answer by Ati_13 at 12:34 AM on Mar. 30, 2010

  • My DH was attacked in a grocery store once by a crazy guy. It was right after 9-11, and my DH has kind of Arab looks (he's actually latino). The guy thought he was a terrorist. Fortunately, a cashier jumped the man before he had a chance to strike twice (i'm so happy about that cashier!!!), but the people around just averted their eyes.

    I'm afraid there have been times I didn't help, times that will be forever etched in my heart: walking down the street in Albania I saw a drunk man fall so hard his head bounced. I walked by with everyone else. It makes me sick every time I think about it. I was just 17. Another time in India we passed an accident where a young man was lying on the ground. People were already around picking him up. We passed on. I'm a nurse, and I have never stopped feeling sick about it. In those two instances, i really didn't know what to do.

    Answer by Adelicious at 12:36 AM on Mar. 30, 2010

  • Yes I have and it made me sad.... Ppl are in thier own little worlds now a days

    Answer by 4xsthetrouble at 12:37 AM on Mar. 30, 2010

  • Ok, I thought of one! I'm actually proud to say that I DID step forward.

    In Cancun, on a city bus on the way back to our hotel from a club, a Jeep Wrangler with I think SEVEN people inside jumped a curbb and flipped, all right next to our bus. The bus driver stared but didn't even press the brakes, and everyone on the bus just stared. My sister and I, as well as the guys we'd been hanging with all jumped up and convinced the driver to stop. The scene was disgusting, but we actually helped beyond the accident by locating the family of one of the crash-ees.

    Answer by DusterMommy at 12:46 AM on Mar. 30, 2010

  • No, I am always the first one to jump in to help my fellow man.

    Answer by PatriciaofMN at 12:58 AM on Mar. 30, 2010

  • Yes, I have seen it. NO - I have NOT been a person that's just been able to walk away or watch. My conscience could never allow that. Even when I'm not able to help, I feel bad for the person and I have a hard time shaking it - I keep worrying about them.

    Like just the other day, we were driving, the weather was bad, and there was a car that had gone off the road, with this little old lady standing next to it. The way the road and traffic was, we couldn't stop, but we were able to go up the road a bit and turn around and go back. By the time we got back, she wasn't there. I'm hoping someone else helped her, and I kept worrying about her. Though honestly, as my dh pointed out, we were probably the worst ones to try to help her that was out there (we're stationed in Japan, and are just barely learning to speak Japanese, so pretty much anyone else out there would have been more able to communicate with her.)

    Answer by sailorwifenmom at 1:46 AM on Mar. 30, 2010

  • I should add, there are a handful of quotes that I think summarize my philosophy on life. One of them is "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." I also believe there are sins of omission just as much as commission.

    So, even if I'm not the one who caused the evil thing, but I just stand by and watch it and don't try to do what I can, then I'm contributing to the situation, simply by my "sin of omission".

    I would hope that, if it were me or someone I love, that someone would help, and how can I hope for that if I'm not willing to help someone else,or someone else's loved one?

    Answer by sailorwifenmom at 1:52 AM on Mar. 30, 2010

  • Yes back in high school.2 Different incidents Gah, I hate thinking about this. These guys got into a fight because of a basket ball game and the one guy hit the other in the face with the ball and he went down the kid then just started bashing the kids face into the court. It was a horror scene. No one helped... not even the 2 teachers I guess we were all in shock.

    The 2nd was a guy got into trouble because hel making fun of this girl and he was made to wait in the hall till class was over. Well when I came out of the door the girl was behind me he pushed her head into the wall. She hit the floor and he started stomping on her. She was unconscious for 3 days. I just remember yelling at him but the teacher didn't even do that. Finally the school security tackled him and me and another girl were holding her till the paramedics arrived.

    Some of the saddest things I had to witness.

    Answer by Crissy1213 at 1:53 AM on Mar. 30, 2010