What the Kitty Genovese Killing Can Teach Today’s Digital Bystanders
As Retro Report notes, two social psychologists in New York, John M. Darley and Bibb Latané, conducted experiments that led them to posit that Ms. Genovese might have survived had there been fewer witnesses. Numbers can inhibit action, they concluded. “You think that if there are many people who are witness to something that other people certainly already have done something — why should it be me?” Dr. A 2015 article in The Wisconsin Law Review cited studies showing that most instances of school bullying are witnessed by other students and that in nearly one-third of reported sexual assaults, third parties are present. But for some people it doesn’t take a crowd to do nothing. In the age of social media and instant communication, the potential rises for a Kitty Genovese syndrome on steroids. In Columbus, Ohio, last year, an 18-year-old woman witnessed her teenage friend being raped. There is reason to wonder if certain deplorable acts would have occurred in the absence of technology.
Related: Standing up or standing by?
• Bystander Effect: What is it? And what can we do to counteract?