May 17, 2024
Human Behavior

Bystander Effect: A pathetic characteristic of human behavior

Nowadays, it’s sarcastically being very common that when someone texts in a group message asking for help, most of the group members tend to ignore the message. It also happens often that no one replies to the text that drives the text sender crazy enough to judge the group members useless. But are they really useless or rude enough to be not helpful? This article will investigate this weird type of human behavior.

Well, the “bystander effect” theory can give a better explanation of why these group members actually remain silent.

But before we delve deeper into answering these questions, let us think about a crucial scenario. Imagine, you are walking on the roads and suddenly you see a girl is being harassed and teased by a powerful gang of bad boys in the public. What would you do? Right now, you’re thinking that you will do your best to save her.

Unfortunately, in real life either you will watch the whole scene in panic praying that someone from the public must help the poor girl, or you would leave the place in fear. Most bystanders would do this, and this is not really something to take personally.

In March 13 of 1964, Kitty Genovese, a 28-year-old bartender was stabbed and raped outside her house. There were 38 witnesses who either heard or saw the whole thing, but none of them called the police. 
After knowing about this ungracious side of human behavior, two New York psychologists, John Darley and Bob Latane, proposed research sitting in a diner to investigate the whole issue further. They assumed that despite hearing the plight of Genovese the witnesses did not call the police because they thought “there must be someone from us who will call the police.”

Darley-Latane finally set their minds for research. In their research, they discovered that when someone was the only bystander, they usually helped. However, when there were five bystanders in a group, only 62% of them stepped in to help.

So, the probability of helping victims and the total number of bystanders is actually disproportional to each other. The more bystanders are present, the less is the chance of the victim getting helped from any of those bystanders.

Darley-Latane labeled this situation as “bystander effect”. Three psychological factors are the controller of this effect in human behavior. 

First one is termed as diffusion of responsibility. A thought emerges in every individual bystander that other bystanders might help the victim, so he does not need to intervene. 

Second term is known as evaluation apprehension. It refers to the fear of being judged by the public while helping. For instance, if a girl helps out a boy with class notes in a messenger group, the other students may make a presumption about her that she and the boy are sharing a sort of romantic relationship. 

The third factor is called pluralistic ignorance. This is the critical one and usually controls a bystander subconsciously. Every individual bystander starts thinking, since no other bystanders are helping the victim just like me, that means the situation actually is not an emergency. 

Now, it’s quite easy to explain why people do not get help when they ask for it from a group of individuals. Every individual is dominated by the bystander effect, which is fueled by the innate three psychological factors as mentioned above and it affects human behavior of helpfulness. 

Therefore, it’s either better to seek help from a person individually or ask everyone out at the same time to help. Doing so will reduce the probability of causing a bystander effect and the help-seeker will get quick help. 

However, as human beings, it’s better to try not to let the negative psychological factors of bystander effect dominate us from helping others in times of danger. The real hero is not the one who carries a helpful mentality, rather it’s the one who breaks his inner restraint and runs to the seeker to help him out in times of danger. 

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