Active and in-active bystanders, witnesses to a brutal murder
On 22 May 2013 a was brutally killed in an attack in London during the early afternoon. He was an off duty soldier, later named as Drummer Lee Rigby. He was murdered by two men, who chased him down with their car, then used knives and a clever to hack at him like a “piece of meat”. They tried to behead him before dragging him onto the road.
After the murder, they remained at the scene talking to bystanders, and asking them to take videos and photos. They told the crowd that they had killed the soldier to avenge the killing of Muslims by the British army. The men did not attempt to flee the scene and remained there until police arrived. The police shot and arrested them.
There were many witnesses who saw the attack but none tried to stop the killing. After the killing the crowd watched one of the men give an interview (with a knife in his bloodied hands). No one tried to overpower him in case he killed again. However, a few of the women at the scene tried to give first aid to the victim and one woman tried to reason with an attacker, asking him to give her his weapons.
What made no one try to stop the killing and only some to try to help or reason with the assailant whilst the others did not?
The research carried out by Bibb Latane and John Darley into following the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964 offers a possible explanation.
In order to find out if the presence of other people would stop someone from intervening in an emergency they asked university students (72 in total) to sit in a room....