Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Student Life: Bystander Intervention

If you saw someone being mugged what would you do? Intervene and help? Or ignore it and pretend you didn't see anything?

I think all of us would say that we would intervene but realistically we probably wouldn't. According to psychologists, in order to intervene, certain factors need to be present. Firstly, the bystander would have to notice the event then interpret it as an emergency before deciding to take personal responsibility to intervene.

What's interesting is that if an event (such as smoke filling a room) occurs in a room full of people and no one says or does anything, then we are more than likely to not say or do anything either. This is known as Diffusion of Responsibility. Simply put, "no one else is doing anything, so why should I?"

Another reason why people don't say or do anything around other people is because we do not want to appear foolish. So if you think about it, we would rather risk our lives before looking like a fool. Isn't that crazy!

One totally unbelievable example of people standing back and doing nothing was the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964. Her screams and cries got the attention of 38 of her neighbours but not one of them helped her. They didn't even call the police until some time after she was dead! 

Obviously there are people out there who would intervene regardless if anyone else was there or not, otherwise there wouldn't be stories of good samaritans etc. So there is some hope for the human race after all!

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