Bystander Effect: What Is It and What You Can Do About It
What the bystander effect looks like A little after 3 a.m. on March 13, 1964, Catherine “Kitty” Genovese parked her car and walked to her apartment in Queens, New York, after finishing her shift as a bar manager. Serial killer Winston Moseley was out to victimize someone that night. Genovese became his target. When he followed her, she ran. As Moseley reached her and began stabbing her with a hunting knife, Genovese screamed, “Oh, my God, he stabbed me! When lights in surrounding apartments flipped on and one man called out his window, the attacker ran and hid in the shadows. There was widespread public condemnation of the witnesses who did not come to Kitty Genovese’s aid. The related terms “bystander effect” and “diffusion of responsibility” were coined by social psychologists as a result of this research. The bystander effect describes situations in which a group of bystanders witness harm being done, yet do nothing to help or stop the harmful activity. According to the U.S.
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