Bystander Intervention (Bystander Effects)






Definition - Bystander Effect (bystander apathy) The presence of others decreases the


likelihood that anyone will offer help



If there are a number of people at the scene of an accident, Would we expect most people to help – Most people would probably answer Yes.


BUT surprisingly the answer is NO – In reality the more people there are ,the fewer seem to want to help.


This lack of Intervention is known as Bystander Apathy


Factors Preventing Bystander Intervention


Diffusion of Responsibility


See Kitty Genovese class handout

Latane and Darley(1968) when investigating the Kitty Genovese murder, showed that not one of the 38 people who observed her murder attempted to call the police at the time because they thought someone else will do something



Presence of other people

Latane and Rodin investigated this in a study where a person waited in a room, but in the room next door a secretary pretended to fall  and cried out. People waiting alone or with a friend tended to go to her assistance while people waiting with a stranger in the room didn’t.






Defining the Situation

In another experiment Latane and Darley arranged for smoke to billow into a room from under a door. 75% waiting alone reported it, while only 10% of those waiting with strangers did.



Piliavin et al (1969)

Research Question – If people are partly responsible for their own problem – should they receive less help from those around them.



See Piliavin Class handout       


Piliavin found that people would help someone who appeared to be ill 95% of the time, and only 50% of the time even if the person appeared to be drunk






It could well be possible that the greatest problem with intervention is the fear of ‘Looking Silly’ to other people


Latane and Darley suggested that  if people defined the situation for themselves (possibly as an emergency) they would act. However otherwise they would go along with the group attitude towards the situation and follow the crowd in their decision.


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