Bystander Effect – How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior (PSY)

by Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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    00:00 Here’s another great example of how the amount of people around you can change how you act and react.

    00:08 This is something called the “Bystander Effect”.

    00:09 This is when individuals don’t offer any assistance to a victim when other people are present.

    00:15 So, you can see in the image here, I have a young lady who’s passed out on the stairs.

    00:21 So, did she trip and fall and bang her head? Or is she under the influence of some agent? We don’t know.

    00:27 The point here is that she’s lying on the ground and there’s people around her, why is nobody helping her? Now, the probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders.

    00:37 So, if this happens and you are in a very large crowd, so imagine Times Square New York, and you slip and fall on a banana peel and you bang your head right infront of Hollywood. And you’re lying there.

    00:49 The chances of somebody helping you are actually a lot lower because there’s thousands of peoples around you.

    00:56 Versus say maybe you’re in a grocery store and you’re on an isle.

    01:00 And you trip on a banana peel there and you bang your head and there’s only 3 or 4 people there.

    01:05 They saw what happened, they heard the commotion and because there’s less people around them, they’ll actually attend to you.

    01:10 So we’re going to take a look at some of these characteristics here.

    01:13 So these are variables that will explain this bystander effect.

    01:15 The first, Diffusion of responsibility.

    01:18 When you’re in a large crowd, you assume that others are responsible or have already gotten help.

    01:22 And how many times have you done this? You’ve seen a car accident in a ditch or you see a car on the side of the road and there’s a lot of cars, there’s a lot of action and you’re assuming, "Well, there on the ditch I’m sure somebody’s already called 911." Well, how do we know that? We assume that there is so many people around us; of course, somebody must have called.

    01:39 But if you just saw that accident happen and you’re in a kind of a deserted road and there was only you and the car in front of you, you know that there’s nobody around you and all responsibility lies on your shoulders.

    01:49 You will make that call.

    01:51 I hope.

    01:52 Situational ambiguity, this is when you’re not sure what’s really happening.

    01:57 Let’s go back to the diagram, that image of the lady lying on the steps.

    02:00 She’s lying there and you’re like, “Is she really just passed out ‘coz she’s drunk and she doesn’t really need my help?” or “Has this person just had a seizure falling and banged her head?” You’re not really sure of whether or not that person needs help.

    02:13 So that complicates the situation.

    02:15 And the last is Group cohesiveness.

    02:18 And what is your relationship with others? If you are walking by yourself with none of your friends or nobody that you know into a large group, you have no relationship with the others around you, you’re less likely to help.

    02:30 As opposed to, if you’re there with your immediate family or your group of your friends and peers and you’re walking in Times Square, and you know that something is going down, as a group, you almost now have a sense of responsibility because if your friends see that you’re not actually helping this individual, they might judge you.

    02:46 And so you almost have that, that sense of responsibility of being with those that around you that you know.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Bystander Effect – How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior (PSY) by Tarry Ahuja, PhD is from the course Social Processes That Influence Human Behavior.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Bystander effect
    2. Medical negligence
    3. Good Samaritan law
    4. Deindividuation
    5. Lack of confidence in her skills
    1. 50 onlookers at an accident
    2. 2 onlookers at an accident
    3. Injury that occurs at a costume party
    4. Injury that occurs at a bachelorette party
    5. Injured person who had tripped over a stone but has recovered

    Author of lecture Bystander Effect – How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior (PSY)

     Tarry Ahuja, PhD

    Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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