Bystander effect is a social psychological phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to offer help during an emergency situation when there are other individuals present. As means to get an understanding of why individuals do less when they are in the presence of others, social psychologists John Darley, then at NYU and Bibb Latané at Columbia university conducted a study titled “Bystander Intervention in Emergencies: Diffusing Responsibility”.
The original study done by Darley and Latané was sparked by the Kitty Genovese incident in which Genovese was stabbed to death over a period of thirty minutes and none of the thirty-eight witnesses present called for help. The purpose of the study was to figure out why there is less action taken during an emergency when there are more people present. One would think that more people present would be equivalent to more 911 calls or acts of intervention and aid but that is not the case. Are they simply hesitant? Are they unsure of the severity of the situation so turn a blind eye to it? Would they rather just mind their own business? Or are people really just heartless creatures? These are all reasonable inquiries, therefore, Darley and Latané explore this situation with the intent to learn why the bystander effect happens.
To conduct this experiment, Darley and Latané defined the independent and dependent variables of the research. The independent variable, the factor being manipulated whose effect is being studied, is the number of bystanders present during an emergency. The sociologists created three levels of the independent variable, group 1 that consisted of two participants, group 2 that consisted of three participants, and group 3 that consisted of six participants. The dependent variable, which is the outcome factor that’s changes as a result of the independent variable, was the willingness of the participants to help during an emergency.
The sociologists hypothesized that the diffusion of...