The Bystander Effect

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The purpose of this paper is to analyse how the bystander effect, “the likelihood that an individual will intervene in an emergency goes down as the number of bystanders increases” (Olson, Breckler, Wiggins, 2008, p.482), occurs in chosen an emergency situation (Appendix nr1). I am going to show why and how participant’s behaviour confirms or not that effect.

There are many interactions among people witnessing an emergency situation. Behaviours of witnesses are influenced by occurring psychological reactions and responses to situation. “A false impression of how other people are thinking, feeling and responding” (Karn, 2010,) creates a common ignorance and influences bystander’s behaviours. Interpretation of situation as a nonemergency is based on other bystander’s reactions or their no reactions. The presence of others diminishes a feeling of personal responsibility (Karn, 2010).

Because an emergency case chosen for analysis contains an element of aggression I introduce now the social psychological definition of aggression that is: “behaviour that is intended to injure someone physically or psychologically” and a special kinds of aggression, such as a hostile aggression:”harm-doing that arises out of negative emotions such as anger, frustration, or hatred” (Olson and all, 2008, p. 419). I use also the GAM (General Aggression Model) theory: ”a broad theory that conceptualizes aggression as the result of a chain of psychological processes, including situational events, aggressive thoughts and feelings, and interpretation of the situation” (Olson and all, 2008, p. 423), and frustration-aggression hypothesis, “proposition that frustration always leads to some form of aggression” (Olson and all, 2008, p. 425).

I also apply Latane and Darley’s decision tree “that specified a series of decisions that must be made before a person will intervene in an emergency” (Olson and all, 2008, p. 479). Five different processes should occur for intervention to happen, such as: (1) the event must be noticed (if an individual do not notice he/she will not help), (2) the event must be interpreted as an emergency (witnesses fail to intervene, because they do not interpret the event as an emergency), (3) a personal responsibility must be accepted (if other people are present a witness can assume that others will help), (4) an appropriate form of assistance needs to be chosen, and finally (5) the action has to be implemented. If a negative response occurs at any stage of the process the bystander will not intervene.

As a passenger of TAXI I observed two drivers before the emergency situation began.

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