Type: Controversial Essays
Sample donated: Ramona Graham
Last updated: September 23, 2019
Sophia AguirreComposition 1HalterJanuary 3, 2018Bystander Effect Assignment There are many different and unique psychological events that occur in our world today, and the bystander effect seems to be one of the most intriguing. Shows like What Would You Do provoke individuals to mentally place themselves into a similar situation and to decide whether they should intervene or hold back. If one witnessed a tragedy or dilemma taking place in front of their own eyes, would they take action? Most individuals would believe that action would be taken in an emergency, but many psychologists might suggest that the ability to intervene or to not intervene is dependent on the number of other people or witnesses present at the scene. According to Psychology Today, the bystander effect is defined as, “the social psychological phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim in a situation when other people are present.” So essentially, the greater number of bystanders surrounding a dilemma, the lower the likelihood of any of them helping out or resolving it. Some conditions or factors by which the bystander effect can occur are when a person is experiencing uncertainty and the questioning of social relations (cohesiveness).
These two factors lead to people feeling some form of discomfort. The presence of others around another person creates a diffusion in responsibility. A big cause for individuals to conform to the bystander effect has a great deal to do with what is socially acceptable and tolerable to behave in a way that is appropriate. When an individual is surrounded by a group of people in a dire situation, they might not feel as compelled to speak up or take action to resolve it, in fear of disappointment or humiliation from others viewing the action as socially inappropriate.
A factor that may increase the likelihood of someone taking action in a situation and preventing the bystander effect from happening to them is to just simply become more aware of what the effect is, what it does, and how to break the tendency of it. Being able to comprehend what the bystander effect is and how it can manipulate or question the mind might be able to help others in certain situations where one can work against it and overcome the urge to succumb to it. A couple years ago, I experienced my own psychological phenomenon of the bystander effect. I was walking down the hallway to the cafeteria at my high school when I began to hear loud chatter and bursts of yelling. At first, I didn’t think anything of it until I reached the cafeteria. I witnessed a fight taking place with two girls: the first individual was covered in applesauce and refried beans, and her hair was being held by the second individual. The two were throwing taking turns punching and throwing each other against the walls in the commons.
I stood in the cafeteria watching everything unfold, and I wanted to intervene and to stop the situation from escalating, but I was worried of what others would think if I took action. Everyone was chanting at the individuals to continue to fight and a large majority of them had their cell phones out videotaping the ordeal. It wasn’t until another individual and the lunch lady stepped in to break up the fight. After all of the fighting came to a halt, I took a second to reflect on why I didn’t step in. I was worried about what others would think if I made the right decision and I was worried that the students would think it was not “socially acceptable” for me to intervene. I didn’t want to stand out.
Ultimately, I failed to resist the bystander effect due to my fear of rejection and judgment from others.There are many theories and principles within the branch of social psychology that challenge the minds of social psychologists. Two psychologists, John Darley and Bibb Latane studied the diffusion of responsibility. The diffusion of responsibility is defined as “a sociopsychological phenomenon whereby a person is less likely to take responsibility for action or inaction when others are present.
Considered a form of attribution, the individual assumes that others either are responsible for taking action or have already done so.” These two psychologists hypothesized that the more individuals who witness a crime, the less likely those people are to help anyone who needs it. This hypothesis compelled these psychologists to create a situation in which a realistic “emergency” could most likely occur.
In their experiment, each test subject would be blocked from any communication with other individuals to hinder them from learning or gaining information about their behavior during that specific emergency. Stephanie Bell of Missouri Western State University performed a second study on the phenomenon around the diffusion of responsibility. Bell wanted to know if sexes had any impact on one’s diffusion of responsibility. She examined the ideas of one sex becoming more likely to aid the same sex or the opposite sex. In this study, Bell hypothesized that more individuals will help a female more than a male.
Interestingly enough, many other studies were performed on this idea between sex and the diffusion of responsibility and a majority of the findings found that Bell’s hypothesis are very accurate. A social experiment was performed in park with a man and woman and both were directed by the experimenters to try and break a bike lock chain (the idea was to make the participant look like a thief). When the male asked for help in trying to break the chain, bystanders became angry and threatened to call police. In the female’s case when she asked for help in breaking the chain, bystanders came to her aid with little to no questioning.While there are scientists and psychologists studying the effects of the bystander effect, there is also a popular television show striving to make light of the mental phenomenon even more so. The television show What Would You Do? focuses on an individual’s or multiple individuals abilities to make decision on whether to help or hold back in controversial or dangerous situations. Individuals have been challenged from trying to help a girl being abducted or helping a homeless person in pain. Some rise to the challenge and take action, while others will fall to their urge and hold back.
Overall, the bystander effect is a tough psychological event to to wrap your head around or to even resist. But by placing ourselves into challenging situations and watching situations unfold through television and the media, we might be able to train our minds to fight back the urge and to help others in need of help.Works Cited*NEED TO PUT INTO MLA FORMAThttp://www.personal.psu.edu/bfr3/blogs/applied_social_psychology/2011/12/the-bystander-effect.htmlhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/bystander-effecthttps://biologydictionary.net/bystander-effect/