Bystander effect

On this day in 1964, the murder of Kitty Genovese prompted scientific inquiries into what became known as the “bystander effect”.

The bystander effect is a phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to help a victim when other people are around. And the more witnesses, the less likely each is to help.

Perhaps the bystander effect was at play in recent workplace scandals. The abusive behaviors of celebrities, corporate moguls and politicians against their victims were witnessed by countless bystanders who did nothing.

It seems to me that bystanders are just another type of victims, unaware of the reasons behind their failure to act. These same people would help a victim if they were alone with him.

So maybe the next time we witness a person in need we should think of all the other witnesses not as bystanders but as victims in need of our help.

No bystanders, no bystander effect.

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