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The Bystander Effect.

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Also known as bystander apathy, the bystander effect 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, if someone looks like they are in need of help, the more people that are around, the less likely they are to get help. If one person is on a conference call and they are under the impression that they are the only person who can hear the person on the other line and they hear the person in distress, they are more likely to seek help for that other person. However, if this person is under the impression that others can hear the same person on the other end and they show signs of distress, it’s more likely that they won’t seek help. The more people that are in the area, the more distributed the responsibility becomes.

In Mr. Stoczynski’s sixth and seventh period psychology classes, two experiments were done. In sixth period, right before the bell rang, a male student, Matt, sat in the commons area and looked like he was in distress. The rest of the class stood around and watched in different areas of the commons. When the bell rang, we observed. The first boy to walk out went straight to Matt and offered him assistance. When Matt explained that it was an experiment, the boy walked away. As the commons area filled with students walking to class, no one stopped for about two minutes. Many people looked, some even stopped and stared but no one offered help. Finally one boy walked up to Matt and asked if he was okay, the moment he did, about six other student who had been watching walked went to Matt’s aid. A teacher came by and also stopped so Matt got up and explained it was an experiment and everyone went on their way.

During seventh period, a female student, Liv, went to a different part of the commons area and she also pretended to be in distress. The rest of the class stood in different areas and when the bell rang they walked past Liv to see if someone would stop. Not a single person stopped. Some people threw things at her and yelled for her to get up. Her brother even texted her to see if she was asleep. No one stopped so when the late bell rang, Liv proceeded to class.

This experiment proves that the bystander effect is true. The first boy to help Matt was the only person in the commons other than Matt’s classmates who were spread out. He went straight to Matt. It took two minutes for anyone of the hundred or so student who walked by to stop. Once one person stopped, six or so other students immediately walked over to Matt as well. With Liv, no one stopped because her classmates walked by when the bell rang, putting more people in the area.

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The Bystander Effect.