The bystander effect , or bystander apathy , is a social psychological theory that states that individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when there are other people present; the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that one of them will help. Several factors contribute to the bystander effect, including ambiguity , group cohesiveness , and diffusion of responsibility that reinforces mutual denial of a situation's severity. The bystander effect was first demonstrated and popularized in the laboratory by social psychologists John M. An emergency situation is staged and researchers measure how long it takes the participants to intervene, if they intervene.
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In the experiment, all participants overheard an epileptic seizure. Some participants believed they were the only observant of the emergency, others believed they were one of many two or four. Participants who knew that other observant could report the emergency felt less responsible and reported the incident more slowly than participants who were the only observant to the scene.
They argue that individuals feel less personally responsible when they share the responsibility with many bystanders. A single witness bears the whole responsiblity for action and is more likely to act , whereas a group of witnesses shares the responsibility among its members and hence each individual member of the group of observant is less likely to act.
Yet, participants who were members of a group of observant reported that they felt that the presence of others had no effect on their own behavior. Manning, R. The Kitty Genovese murder and the social psychology of helping: The parable of the 38 witnesses. American Psychologist, 62, Jump to: navigation , search. Category : Research. Personal tools Log in. Namespaces Page Discussion. Views Read View source View history. Navigation Main Page Recent changes help!