An Explanation of Mr. Buckley’s Helping Behaviour
The murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964 caused a national outcry.
Although her death was horrific, the public could not believe the
police reported 38 people witnessing the incident yet not one person
took any action. The dismay this caused prompted Psychologists to
study the factors involved in helping behaviour.
Helping behaviour may be defined as “an intentional act to benefit
someone else”. (Hogg and Vaughan, 1995, cited in Hogg and Vaughan,
2002, p 280). Other related terms are altruism and prosocial
behaviour. Each terms definition emphasises different aspects of the
behaviour, particularly the motive for helping. At present, there is
not a universally accepted definition of helping behaviour. The number
of terms in use reflects this disparity.
This essay will provide various social explanations of the helping
behaviour demonstrated by Mr. Buckley. Main conclusions are the theory
proposed by ? seems to account for the cited behaviour more
effectively than the alternatives discussed below.
The cognitive model of bystander intervention (Latane and Darley,
1970, cited in Hogg and Vaughan, 2002) suggests a person makes a
series of judgements ultimately leading to the refusal or
implementation of help. If help is to be given, the situation needs to
demonstrate something is wrong and be defined as an emergency. After
this has been established, personal responsibility needs to be
assigned. Finally the decision of what help is appropriate needs to be
made. This decision is then put into action.
Mr. Buckley noticed a minibus passing by him and “suddenly there was a
massive smash”. This may be considered an infrequent event. Upon
hearing the sound of a smash, signalling the minibus had possibly
crashed; Mr. Buckley may have noticed something was wrong. However,
the model suggests recognising something is wrong is not sufficient
enough for help to be given. The situation needs to be defined as an
emergency. Defining the situation as an emergency may have been based
on seeing the “sleeping bags and tents everywhere”. He may have used
this observation and concluded if the crash had thrown the objects
around, the same may have happened to the occupants. This may have
resulted in injuries requiring hospital treatment. Failing to use this
knowledge to label the situation as an emergency, Helen the trapped
driver, defined it for him. She was heard calling for help and
therefore dispelled any ambiguity surrounding the degree of
seriousness the situation posed.
Mr. Buckley assumed personal responsibility for the situation. He
stated, “I was the only one around so it was either me or nobody”.
This observation and the subsequent help offered reflect the notion of
diffusion of responsibility. This paradoxically suggests the more