It is a known fact that when an unfortunate event is witnessed, a person's attitude may differ depending on the presence of others around the surface. Nowadays, crimes and assassinations no longer need to be behind secret doors. It may be an inappropriate expression to say only recently, however, illegal actions in public places are inevitably rising. It doesn’t require you to be shoved to the side streets to have your money confiscated, to be abducted and taken to out-of-sight areas to be subjected to violence, to have a systematically working team behind you if the crime is being committed inside a rooted institution, and so on. How could this so-called "bystander effect" hypothesis be proven? Does it originate from the spread of specific personal characteristics or social causes that we cannot customize? And finally, is there any particular circumstance that can be seen as an advantage against this effect? Now, we shall highlight the answers in this article.
The bystander effect is a well-known physiological term since it entered the literature in 1964. Social psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley popularized the concept following the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City that year. The reporters claimed dozens of neighbors failed to assist or even inform the state’s security forces during the tragic incident. It had featured deadly violence toward a woman outside her apartment. While this incident can naturally be explained by the contempt and hatred felt towards women, especially in those years, it not only remained limited to this angle but opened the stage for a new perspective. When it first appeared, it was evaluated under two main headings: the diffusion of responsibility and common influence. Its possible causes were not detailed by its discoverers or new experts in the following years. The first is based on the feeling of avoiding responsibility and camouflaging, which can be attributed to a human characteristic. After all, if there are a few people instead of a dozen who need to perform the same task, the ratio left to a single person decreases, right? Unfortunately, human beings cannot "do" something well enough (mentioning the probable rescue attempt) and yet, rather than mitigating the distress, they prefer to leave the crisis as it is so that no one has a say about their behavior. Unless they see events in which one will step up and take on the role of the dozen, they all wait for the other miraculous hero. Secondly, another human characteristic is to see society as a truthful figure and to be open to manipulation by the attitude of the majority. The same factors leading to the bystander effect may also show themselves positively. Individuals are more likely to act presentable enough in the case of being watched by a respected crowd and when their actions align with their social identities, such as being pro-abortion, or pro-environment.
Regardless of its positive or negative aspects, standing a step back is not a dysfunctional act in social environments with circumstances where this effect manifests itself. It is inefficient as well as understandable. This situation provides some sort of advantage to those who can isolate themselves from public opinion and pressure unwritten but verbal. For instance, autistic individuals because of their congenital insensitiveness to social cues. By bringing attention to these issues, autistic citizens may foster opportunities to improve organizational performance, leading to the development of a more adaptive, high-performing, and ethical culture.
To summarize, the social and behavioral paralysis described by the bystander effect has a visible chance to reduce with awareness and, in some cases, explicit training without forgetting the potential benefits of neurodiversity in workplaces, schools, et cetera. An active bystander is mostly beneficial in the assumption of being the sole person left to take charge, plus, giving direction to other bystanders to intervene is vital. Our natural tendencies towards altruism may move them to help if given the opportunity.
Emeghara, Udachi. “Bystander Effect in Psychology”. SimplyPsychology, Saul Mcleod & Olivia Guy-Evans, 7 Sept. 2023, Bystander Effect In Psychology.