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Bystander effect is a situation or a phenomenon where if an individual is in distress, if there is a lot of people around or present at the scene of the distress, it is most likely that they will assist the individual in distress. In situations of emergencies action is more likely to be taken if the individuals present at the scene are few. In a busy street it is very hard for one to be assisted when they are in distress.
There was a study that was conducted by psychologist Bibb Latane and John Darley, the findings of the study were that the amount of time that those present at the scene of distress to assist or take action will vary it depending on the number of the other participants who are present in the room. Also in another experiment, the participants were left alone in the rooms, with other subjects and finally with confederates who were acting as though they were subjects in the experiment. The experimental subjects were given questionnaires to fill, and then smoke started filling the room. It was found that when the subjects when the subjects were alone, about 75% of the subjects made a report on the smoke to those conducting the experiment. In a room with other subjects, only 38% of the subjects in the room with reported of the smoke. The final group the confederates who were acting when they saw the smoke and assumed or ignored it, only 10% of the subjects reported the smoke (Richards, 2009).
One of the most used examples that demonstrate the bystander effect in was the horrific murder of a young girl called Catherine Genovese. It happened in 1964, the girl was 28 years old and she was returning home after a day at work. When she was near the entrance of the apartment she lived in, Genovese was stabbed by a criminal who was later to be known was Winston Moseley. Even though Genovese repeatedly cried for assistance, of the dozens of people who passed by in the street none came to her aid. Also of the people in the nearby apartments they were also very slow to act though they heard the cries and later called the police. Genovese had been attacked at 3:20 AM; the attack was reported to the police 3:50 AM (Baumeister and Finkel, 2010).
Some of the major reasons which contribute to the bystander effect include, there being other people in the surrounding will act in creating a diffusion of responsibility. This is by there being the presence of observers; this works in making the individuals to feel that they are not in a lot of pressure to take action, as there is a shared responsibility for all those present at the scene to act and take action. Also the thought of someone else that is more responsible is nearby and will see it and take action (Richards, 2009).
Another reason is the feeling that an individual should act or behave in such a manner that is regarded by the society to be socially acceptable and correct. Therefore when the other people in the scene will fail to take an action, an individual will more than not feel that this as a sign there is no for a response or it is not appropriate to take any action. Also some researchers have reported that if the situation is ambiguous there is a low likely hood for the people next to the scene responding and taking action.