Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bystander Apathy

The bystander effect/apathy  or Genovese syndrome is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases where individuals do not offer any means of help in an emergency situation to the victim when other people are present.People felling less responsible and therefore feeling less likely to help. As example , if someone need help and you are the only one there , you are likely to help .But if there are a lots of peoples , you are less likely to help as you assume other people will do it .

There are many reason why bystanders in a group fail to act in emergency situations , but psychologist focus on 2 factors.

Pluralistic Ignorance
-Bystanders monitor other people reaction in an emergency situation to see if others think it is necessary to intervene .Each person use others behavior as a clue to reality . Since everyone is doing exactly the same that is nothing, they all conclude from the inaction of others that help is not needed.

Diffusion of Responsibilities
-Occurs when all observer assume someone else is going to intervene so each individual feel less responsible and refrain to help.

There are other reasons why people may not help. They may assume that other bystanders are more qualified to help, such as doctors or police officers, and that their intervention would be unneeded. People may also experience evaluation apprehension and fear losing face in front of the other bystanders. They may also be afraid of being superseded by a superior helper, offering unwanted assistance, or facing the legal consequences of offering inferior and possibly dangerous assistance.

Notable example 

Kitty Genovese

The case of Kitty Genovese is often cited as an example of the "bystander effect". It is also the case that originally stimulated social psychological research in this area. 28 year-old Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death on March 13, 1964 by a serial rapist and murderer on her way back to her Queens, New York apartment from work at 3am. According to newspaper accounts, the attack lasted for at least a half an hour during which time Genovese screamed and pleaded for help. The murderer attacked Genovese and stabbed her, then fled the scene after attracting the attention of a neighbor. The killer then returned ten minutes later and finished the assault. Newspaper reports after Genovese's death claimed that 38 witnesses watched the stabbings and failed to intervene or even contact the police until after the attacker fled and Genovese had died. This led to widespread public attention, and many editorials.
According to an article published in American Psychologist in 2007, the original story of Kitty Genovese's murder was exaggerated by the media. Specifically, there were not 38 eyewitnesses, the police were contacted at least once during the attack, and many of the bystanders who overheard the attack could not actually see the event. The authors of the article suggest that the story continues to be misrepresented in social psychology textbooks because it functions as a parable and serves as a dramatic example for students.
Stanley Milgram hypothesized that the bystanders′ callous behavior was caused by the strategies they had adopted in daily life to cope with information overload. This idea has been supported to varying degrees by empirical research