An Analysis of an Incident of Bystander Intervention

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Bystander intervention is regarded by social psychologists to be the act of helping and assisting strangers in an emergency. In 1964, the murder of Kitty Genovese lasted for over half an hour, during which the victim was screaming for help whilst 38% of the neighbors witnessed her attempt to escape, but none of them called the police to assist her. Latane and Darley then conducted a number of studies and developed the decision model of bystander intervention (1970) to explain the stages required for intervention to occur. This essay shall provide description of the decision model of bystander intervention likelihood model and proceed to apply it to a contemporary example of bystander intervention. In order to consider the type of circumstances under which individuals do or do not intervene, the decision model of bystander intervention proposes that the helping behavior of onlookers emerges only if they complete all the five steps; incompletion in any step results in non-helping. Firstly, an individual must recognize the event, to notice what is happening. Secondly, one has to define the situation and interpret the need for help, given that perception is an active construction, sometimes people misinterpret the situation as a non-emergency. Thirdly, one must take and accept personal responsibility for helping based on reactions of others present in order to evaluate what response is appropriate. Because emergencies are sparse and unpredictable, people often do not know what to do, ones are less like to help when there are other onlookers due to two social dynamics: diffusion of responsibility and pluralistic ignorance. Diffusion of responsibility refers to the diminishing feeling of the responsibility and onus in a situation that involves other people, because they seem to reason somebody else probably will offer assistance. Pluralistic ignorance refers to people’s

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