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The Bystander Effect: How Big Is To Big Of A Group?

1110 words - 5 pages

Walking along the busy street of Manhattan, Katie becomes light headed passing out; although she is in a large group of people, no one stops to help. This phenomenon is called the “bystander effect.” A bystander is often anyone who passed by, witnessed, or even participated in a certain situation (Polanin, Espelage & Pigott, 2012). The bystander effect is the idea that the larger the group, the less likely an individual is to be helped. The likelihood of someone getting helped is inversely compared to the number of people who are around witnessing the event at the time. This phenomenon has played a huge role in the increase of civilians failing to be helped in the past years, and is starting to have more light shined upon it. Knowledge of the role of a bystander now has more public awareness (Fischer et al., 2011). The bystander effect has acted as a doorway to many things, and situations such as bullying, and gang violence. Most people have been in situations where they were either a bystander or a victim of no bystander intervention. The typical person falls victim to the bystander effect because of people feeling the need to conform to a group, self- efficacy, and the belief that responsibility will transfer to another individual.
On the South Side of Chicago in 1984, a high school basketball player, Ben Wilson, was murder walking his girlfriend home after school. Many people witnessed this event, but since no one else was being proactive in getting helped it took hours before medical help was called, and Ben died while he waited. The need to conform to a group is present in all individuals. Even when someone knows they need to aid someone else, if they notice everyone else not doing so they will follow the majority’s lead. No one wants to be the outsider, so naturally people submit to conformity. The influence of “in- groups” and “out-groups” has affected the intervention of bystanders (Paull et al., 2012). Conformity ties in to the bystander effect because people follow others around them, and sadly this means that on several occasions people go without being helped. Another variable is that the greater the number of bystanders typically results in a decrease of any intervention (Paull, et al., 2012). People who really want to help out usually put being accepted into a group, or society over their want to intervene. Although this seems like something only a “follower” would participate in, the average person, regardless of morals and values, will not help someone out if they feel that it will result in them not being accepted. In some cases a person starts out by not conforming to a group, but once they notices that no one has followed suit they will quickly stop what they are doing and join in with the other people around them. A lot of people will have a hard time believing this because of people’s inability to admit to being concern with fitting in, but has been tested and scientifically proven.
Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s self...

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