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.