Overcoming the Bystander Effect
Have you ever been a hero? Going about our daily routines, few of us have the opportunity to save a life or disrupt a crime in progress—fewer still take that opportunity when it presents itself. I once witnessed a car accident in which the guilty party leapt from his disabled vehicle and fled the scene. I quickly pulled over and dialed 911. Fortunately, another passerby stopped and apprehended the suspect. The culprit—who was clearly intoxicated—struggled to escape, but he was easily overpowered. Not only are acts of heroism unsurprisingly rare, reports about observers who, out of indifference or perplexity, fail to report criminal behavior or respond to emergencies with inaction are common. Psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley identified a pattern of behavior they called the bystander effect, which they demonstrated in their labs for the first time in 1968. A number of options exist to help us overcome what in this case appears to be bystander effect on a massive scale.
Related: counteract the bystander effect
• An introduction to Bystander effect: Consequences and ways to overcome