The world has become a busy place full of people on a mission to get to their destination. In this busy world, we all call home; there may be an emergency situation in which bystanders will witness an accident, criminal attack or a domestic dispute between a couple. Events like the ones just mentioned have also happened in very public places. When an event happens in public, a phenomenon called the bystander effect occurs.
The bystander effect is a phenomenon where people are less likely to help with another person when other individuals are in the same area. The more individuals in an area during an emergency situation, the chance that someone will help will be significantly reduced. These different components which cause the bystander effect. If there is a threat of harm, or someone is hurt already, people are less likely to help. If an emergency situation is shocking or bizarre, people are also less likely to help. The last situation that causes the bystander effect are emergencies that require help quickly. When an individual is exposed to an emergency, they go through five characteristics. The individual first notices that someone needs help than then decipher the situation being an emergency. The person then feels responsible for helping. The person then thinks of some form of aid, and finally, they help (Bystander Apathy Experiment, n.d.)
The individual who helps in an emergency is showing pro-social behavior. Pro-social behavior is when a person behaves in ways that benefit someone else. Examples of pro-social behavior are helping individuals that need assistance, such as sharing food with someone who needs it, donating old clothing to a shelter, or volunteering at an elderly bingo night. These are all examples of pro-social behavior. Pro-social behavior comes in different forms such as altruism, which is when the individual is unselfish, and when someone needs help, he or she is quick to help without much time passing. Another form of pro-social behavior is the norm of reciprocity which is when an individual returns a favor, with a favor often people feel anger when someone does not reciprocate a favor (Mulder, Pouwelse, Lodewijkx, Bos, Dam, 2016).
The bystander effect was first studied in 1968, when Bibb Latane and John Darley investigated the effect and how it could have prevented the death of Kitty Genovese) Rosenthal, 2009). Genovese was sexually assaulted and murdered while over thirty people witnessed the crime. By the time authorities arrived Genovese was already dead (Butler, 2013). Latane and Darley began to conduct research and created the bystander apathy experiment. In the study participants have conversations with another person who is in another room, who is a recording. The recording is from an individual who is prone to having seizures. The person in the recording has a seizure during the conversation and Latane, and Darley evaluated how long it took the participants to react and respond to the person who had the seizure in the other room. Thirty-one percent of the participants in a group setting looked for help. Meanwhile, eighty-five percent who were in a one on one setting looked for help (Bystander Apathy Experiment, n.d.) Which is a significant difference when it comes to saving another person’s life.
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