What Is The Bystander Effect?

Bystander effect. Mechanism of shared responsibility - social psychological processes: diffusion of responsibility in a group. Nobody is doing anything to help the victim.
Bystander effect. Mechanism of shared responsibility - social psychological processes: diffusion of responsibility in a group. Nobody is doing anything to help the victim. | Source

The bystander effect is “a social factor that affects prosocial behavior: As the number of bystanders at an emergency increases, the probability that the victim will receive help decreases, and the help, if given, is likely to be delayed” (Wood, Wood, & Boyd 439).

I thought this was an amazing phenomenon. An example given in shows a man lying unconscious on the sidewalk and the people passing by simply ignored the man.

According to Darely and Latane diffusion of responsibility is the most likely cause for the passing people to ignore an unconscious man on a sidewalk.

The Diffusion of Responsibility

Diffusion of responsibility is “the feeling among bystanders at an emergency that the responsibility for helping is shared by the group, making each person feel less compelled to act than if he or she alone bore the total responsibility” (Wood, Wood, & Boyd 439).

Interestingly enough, when a catastrophe takes place people put forth more effort to help others and the bystander effect is reduced. I am glad that I learned about the bystander effect and the diffusion of responsibility.

I now know for the future that whenever I see a person in trouble I will be more apt to help them or at least go and get help for them.

Reference:

  • Wood, S., Wood, E., Boyd, D. (2002). Mastering the World of Psychology. New Jersey: Pearson.

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