bystander effect

Understanding motives for intervening in emergency situations

Akshay Sharan General Psychology Leave a Comment

The bystander effect refers to the inaction by those witnessing an emergency situation. This concept gained significance due to the Kitty Genovese murder case in New York City in 1964, where reports suggest multiple individuals were witness to the event from the comfort of their own homes, yet did nothing to assist or seek help. Today, it appears that there has been an increase in bystander intervention out of the ‘goodness of people’s hearts’ or so they believe. Individuals intervene in emergency situations usually to alleviate the distress being caused to those involved in the situation. However, a new field of thought has emerged that argues individuals help in order to reduce their own personal distress being caused by the witnessed event. Why do you help? And how can you know for sure, whether you are helping out of your empathetic nature, a selfless motive or your concern for self, a selfish motive?

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