Empress of the Universe

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Bystander Effect

The Bystander Effect is described in Wikipedia as “a psychological phenomenon in which someone is less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when others are present than when he or she is alone.”

In the parable of The Good Samaritan, two men bypassed the victim without offering any help. Psychologists coined The Bystander Effect in the 1960’s after the sexual assault and murder of Kitty Genovese in New York. Kitty’s assault and murder was witnessed by over 35 people, yet nobody intervened to stop the attack.

I’m a participant, not a bystander. I don’t necessarily gauge my reaction according to the people around me, I assess the situation and take action. I evaluate a situation and interpret whether it’s an emergency. In the next second, I ask myself if I have a responsibility to take action. Then I choose the most appropriate action.

Even in non-urgent situations, I exercise the same process. I ask myself, ‘What needs to be done? What responsibility do I have in getting it done? Then I take action so that the required results are achieved.’.

Sometimes doing nothing is the right action. But here’s the thing: if it’s also the easiest option to choose, then it’s probably not the right thing to do.

Maybe just knowing the Bystander Effect exists helps me not become one.

from CBC Sunday Report (May 13, 2007)



I am uninspired, my thoughts are scattered and unfocused, so today's post is courtesy of my sister, Christine Lee.

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