Essay An Explanation Of The Bystander Effect

Essay An Explanation Of The Bystander Effect

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Most of us would like to think of ourselves as decent, helpful people. We proclaim that we would never turn our backs on someone in obvious need of help-or would we? In fact, any of us, when faced with a person who seems to be in trouble, do nothing. To explain this, the term bystander effect was coined by sociologist and psychologists. It is a psycho-social phenomenon that suggest the more people there are present at a scene of emergency, the less likely they are to help. In the mind of the individuals in the group, a common unconscious thought occurs: “This group is really big; surely someone has dealt with the situation or eventually will”. Basically, the mere presence of bystanders reduces the chances of intervention, and reduces the likelihood of an individual interpreting the emergency as an actual emergency, which reduces the probability of an individual taking responsibility for initiating action to help. This is referred to as the diffusion of responsibility. Logically, if everyone thinks like this, no helpful actions will be taken towards the emergency and the consequences could be fatal. This seems to sound a little backwards. It would be fair to say that common sense leads us to believe that there is safety in numbers. However, through research and to this phenomenon in our society, the proof of this definition is all too real and quite shocking. John Darley and Bibb Latane revealed that the amount of time a participant takes to initiate action and seek aid varies in accordance to the number of observers present in the room (Hudson and Bruckman 175). There are numerous explanations for the bystander effect, although social psychologists have placed emphasis on two explanations: social influence and diffusion of respo...


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... must regulate our conduct by reference to a self-legislated categorical imperative, and we must postulate the noumenal reality of ourselves, god, and free will—all because a failure to do so would be an implicit confession that the world may be meaningless, and that would be utterly intolerable for us”(Kant, The Moral Code). Unless each individual consciously chooses to act in manner which benefits society, the world can be a dangerous place. According to his idea of good will, even if our efforts fail to produce positive results, we still performed a good duty. His opinion on the bystander effect situation would to absolutely intervene, even if it makes things worse. I believe in response to the good Samaritan law and its questionable morality, he would say that the interference is intrinsically good and the fact that it is a duty would not diminish the good will.

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