Proposal- therealjohnsanchez


It seems counterintuitive that a group of people is less likely to help a person in distress than a single person. A group of people has the potential to do more than just a single person but groups often stay passive while a single person may take action. My essay will be on the bystander effect. I will prove that a single person is more helpful than a group of people. A single bystander feels responsible for helping a person in trouble while the feeling of responsibility is diluted in a group. This causes a group to not help a person in need.

Smoke Filled Room

This experiment shows how a single person is more likely to take action than a group of people. In the experiment, subjects sit in a room taking a test. Smoke starts coming out from under the door to the other room. When a person is in the room alone, they were more likely to react to the smoke and get help. When three people were together, they were more likely to continue taking the test. They would look at each other’s reactions to try and decide whether they should do something.

This study showed that people in groups first look to each other before they decide what to do. It also showed that a lone person is more likely to act than a group. It is important because is shows how differently a person act when in a group.

The Bystander Effect:The Death of Kitty Genovese

The story of Kitty Genovese’s murder is what inspired much of the research on the bystander effect. Kitty was attacked at 3am in front of her apartment building. Her screams woke up some of the people in the apartments. After being stabbed and calling for help, one man yelled at the assailant to leave her alone. This scared him off. She crawled across the street to her apartment. When he came back, he found her in a hallway and killed her.

12 people watched the first time she was stabbed. No one called the police. When asked why they didn’t do something, they said that they didn’t want to get involved or assumed someone else would help her. Her murder shows how people in a group fell less of a duty to help a person. They assume someone else will help so that they don’t have to.

Self-Categorization and Bystander Non-intervention: Two Experimental Studies

This study explores how people react differently based on who the victim is and who their fellow bystanders are. The study found that bystanders are more likely to take action if the victim is part of their in group. It also found that bystanders are more likely to take action if the other bystanders are part of their in group. This study helps explain why groups don’t help a victim. They can see a victim as part of another group and feel less responsibility for them. When the other bystanders are part of the out group, each person is not sure what is expected of them and often don’t do anything.

Police: As many as 20 present at gang rape outside school dance

A 15 year old girl was gang raped by up to 10 people outside a high school dance. 10 other people watched without intervening or calling the police. She was found unconscious, in critical condition, by a cop. The cop was called by a person who had heard kids talking about the rape.

This is another example of a group failing to stop a terrible crime. Any of the 10 bystanders could have called the police but they all chose just to watch. The rape wasn’t reported until one person overheard kids talking about it. It shows that one person felt responsible to call the police while a group of 10 people felt no need to.

The Bystander Effect

This article explains the bystander effect and why it might occur. It claims that the diffusion of responsibility causes the bystander effect. When people are in a group, each person feels less pressure to act. It also explains what was discovered in the smoke experiment. People in a group look at others for the proper response. If others don’t react, then people assume the proper response is not to do anything.

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7 Responses to Proposal- therealjohnsanchez

  1. davidbdale says:

    I’ve always been intrigued by this topic, JohnSanchez, and have often recommended it to students who took an interest. I look forward to your findings. Have you found your way to the original source material about Self-Categorization? The link you provided goes only to the Wiley Library preview.

    This path you’re embarking on has been heavily traveled. You’ll be tempted to merely summarize the arguments of others. I hope you’ll find a way to distinguish your own investigation by applying a fresh perspective or measuring the earlier work of others to a new case that can either prove or disprove earlier assumptions.

    How does the gang rape story differ from the Kitty Genovese example? Did the bystanders derive enjoyment from the spectacle? Were they participants? Did they not worry for the girl’s life? Already this morning, I read some news reports from the trial of two of the participants. Several others had already been convicted. To make a strong essay out just 3000 words, you’ll want to choose a specific, particular case to study. Is this the one? Or do you need to find an example about which more is known?

    Thank you for providing purposeful summaries of the sources you’ve collected.

    Reply, please, JohnSanchez. I too appreciate feedback. For best results, keep the conversation going.

    • therealjohnsanchez says:

      “How does the gang rape story differ from the Kitty Genovese example? Did the bystanders derive enjoyment from the spectacle?”

      The gang rape story is similar to the murder of Kitty but it has some differences I think are worth mentioning. When Kitty was murdered, there was no emergency system to call. She was one of the reasons the 911 system exists. These kids knew that help was one call away and they still didn’t do anything. In Kitty’s murder, one man said that he did call the police but they never showed up. I also think that the bystander effect extends to the rapists. They felt less responsible for the suffering they caused because they didn’t act alone.

      “To make a strong essay out just 3000 words, you’ll want to choose a specific, particular case to study.”

      I think this is a good idea but I think I will also add in the Smoke Filled Room experiment because it shows that the bystander effect working in a controlled environment.

      I’m not sure which case I’ll focus on yet but it will likely be the murder of Kitty Genovese because it is the most famous and studied example.

  2. davidbdale says:

    Those are good notes, JohnSanchez. They leave several questions unanswered, including the essential question of what you’ll add to the conversation about the bystander effect.

    Finding examples of an established psychological principle is a valid exercise to convince anyone who has never heard of the phenomenon, or someone who resists believing that any such thing could exist.

    But the Smoke-filled Room and the Kitty Genovese examples have been used for decades to establish the existence of the bystander effect, so neither your sources nor your conclusions offer anything new . . . yet.

    You could dispute the existence of the phenomenon. You could offer a plausible alternative theory. You could dispute the evidence that was offered to establish it, or the conclusions drawn from the evidence. Or (this would be interesting) you could apply it to a realm of human behavior no one’s ever before identified.

    Do bystanders (in a physical, emotional, psychological, maybe digital sense) fail to act today in ways that demonstrate their denial of responsibility? In other words, apply the principle, if you accept its validity, to situations other than violent crimes committed in the full view of others. That appears to have been established.

    Reply, please, as always.

  3. therealjohnsanchez says:

    Find 5 more sources by Tuesday.

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