What Is the Bystander Effect?

Kitty Genovese

The bystander effect refers to when the presence of others hinders an individual from intervening in an emergency situation. Social psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley popularized the concept following the infamous 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in Kew Gardens, New York. Genovese was stabbed to death outside her apartment while bystanders observing the crime did nothing to assist or call the police.

The bystander effect is attributed to the diffusion of responsibility (onlookers are more likely to intervene if there are few or no other witnesses) and social influence (individuals in a group monitor the behavior of those around them to determine how to act). In Genovese’s case, each onlooker concluded from their neighbors’ inaction that their own help was not needed.

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The Mind of the Bystander

Why Don’t We Help?
The more eyewitnesses present, the less likely people will help a victim.

Why Crowds Make Us Callous
How we become different people in the presence of others.

Why Workplace Bullies Thrive
What can be done to stop workplace bullying?

How to Speak Up

Your Chance Not to Be a Bystander
The actions of bystanders can stop mass violence.

The Mind of a Hero
What goes on in the mind of a hero who is rushing in to save a crash victim?

4 Steps For Stopping Workplace Bullies
What can leaders do to stop bullies? A lot!

Our Power as Active Bystanders
Acting to prevent suffering and create a better world.

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