Examine factors influencing bystanderism
can be defined as the phenomenon that an individual is less likely to help
in an emergency situation when passive bystanders are present.
background for research on “bystanderism” was the Kitty Genovese murder in
New York City in 1964. She was attacked, raped, and stabbed several times by
a psychopath. Later, a number of witnesses explained that they had either
heard screaming or seen a man attacking the woman over a period of 30
minutes. None intervened or called the police until it was too late.
Afterwards they said they said they did not want to become involved or
thought that somebody else would intervene. This incident inspired social
psychologists to explore factors that may influence whether people will help
or not in an emergency situation.
Darley (1970) Theory of the unresponsive bystander:
According to the
theory the presence of other people or just the perception that other people are
witnessing the event will decrease the likelihood that an individual will
intervene in an emergency due to psychological processes like:
Responsibility is diffused when more bystanders are present and this reduces
the psychological costs of not intervening.
Informational social influence (pluralistic ignorance):
If the situation is ambiguous people will look to other people around to see
what they do.
Individual bystanders are aware that other people are present and may be
afraid of being evaluated negatively if they react (fear of social
Latané and Darley
suggested a cognitive decision model. They argue that helping requires that the
situation (if you are in a hurry you may not even see what is happening).
situation as an emergency (e.g. people screaming or asking for help, which
could also be interpreted as a family quarrel which is none of your
personal responsibility for helping even though other people are present.
to help (although you may be unsure of what to do or doubt your skills).
Decide how to
help (you may observe how other people react or decide that it is too
dangerous to intervene).
At each of these
stages, the bystander can make a decision to help or not.
Study to use:
Latané and Darley (1968)
al. (1969) The cost reward model of helping
stipulates that both cognitive (cost-benefit analysis) and emotional factors
(unpleasant emotional arousal) determine whether bystanders to an emergency will
intervene. The model focuses on egoistic motivation to escape an unpleasant
emotional state (opposite of altruistic motivation; the empathy-altruism model)
Study to use:
Pilliavin et al. (1969)