A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

Crime and the “do nothing” Bystander Effect – The Washington Post

In Nonsense on March 27, 2012 at 07:33

The bystander effect: Why those who heard the Lululemon murder didn’t help

For decades, psychologists have been studying the “bystander effect,” a theory that people are less likely to intervene during an emergency if others are around. It stems from the case of Kitty Genovese, who was murdered in 1964 outside a Queens apartment building; dozens of people heard her struggle, but no one intervened. Back then, the emergency number 911 had not debuted yet, let alone cellphones to text tips to police. Although technology has changed dramatically in nearly 50 years, human nature has not.

In case after case, witnesses to crimes have frozen in place. Their gut may signal that something is wrong, but they do nothing. Maybe they do not act because no one around them is doing so. Maybe they assume that someone else will respond. Maybe they’re stopped by a concern for their own safety.


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