The bystander effect, or bystander apathy, is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. In other words, the more the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help. Several variables help to explain why the bystander effect occurs.
The Bystander Effect first began when Kitty Genovese was murdered March 13, 1964. While getting out of her car in Queens, New York, she was stabbed twice by Winston Moseley, who had been stalking her the entire night. A man yelled from an above apartment, “Leave that girl alone!”, which startled Moseley and allowed Kitty a chance to escape to her apartment, where she fell through the threshold shortly after screaming that she was dying. However, her attacker, Moseley, found her once more and raped her after he brutally stabbed her for the third time. He then fled the scene, and Kitty’s neighbor Greta Schwartz found her after receiving a call from another neighbor who didn’t want to get involved personally. Greta instantly called the paramedics, and cradled her dying friend in her arms. However, the paramedics were too late to save her.
After this incident, a police investigation concluded that up to 37 people had seen or heard Kitty being stalked and/or stabbed.
However, many years later, a man named Joseph DeMay returned to the Genovese crime scene to conduct his own investigation. He claims that only three eye witnesses could have possibly witnessed anything. However, he admits that many people must have heard. But the Bystander Effect is actually a very complex mental process that can be extremely difficult to overcome. In fact, it’s a four step process, beginning with confusion which results in indecision. Common reasons bystanders chose to avoid helping others is fear of becoming the victim or embarrassing yourself...