The Bystander Effect

2 Jan

If you were witnessing of an emergency situation that was occurring right in front of you, you would do something to help the person in trouble or report the emergency, right?

Well, it turns out that your response might depend on how many other people are present.

Here’s the deal … the more people are present, the less likely you are to help the person in distress. That’s called the “bystander effect.”

black silhouette of a large audience, panoramic view

And this has been shown in psychological experiments back in the 60s.

The experiments are described like this on verywell com:

In one experiment, subjects were placed in one of three treatment conditions: alone in a room, with two other participants or with two “confederates” who pretended to be normal participants.

As the participants sat filling out questionnaires, smoke began to fill the room. When participants were alone, 75% reported the smoke to the experimenters. Just 38% of participants in a room with two other people reported the smoke. In the final group, the two confederates noted the smoke and then ignored it, which resulted in only 10% of the participants reporting the smoke.


So, why does the “bystander effect” occur?

First, if there are other people surrounding you, who are witnessing the same thing that you are, there isn’t as much pressure on you … since you share the responsibility of doing something with others.

Second, you may be concerned about acting in a correct and socially acceptable manner. If no one else is doing anything, then you may feel this is a sign that action isn’t warranted on your part.

So, this is where I need to thank my mom, who taught me to be an independent thinker and not worry what others were doing or thought of me.

Hopefully, that means that I would be less likely subject to the “bystander effect.”

Would you?




Print Friendly

No comments yet

Leave a Reply