Bystander Behavior

A half century ago, psychological scientists Bibb Latané and John Darley conducted foundational research showing that people avoid helping someone in an emergency when other witnesses are present. In the years since, research has greatly increased our understanding about how and when we accept — or skirt — responsibility.

  • Helping a total stranger is generally viewed as morally better and more trustworthy than someone who helps a family member. But this is true only if the helper did not have to choose between those options. [NEWS Feb. 10, 2020] More

    What Makes a ‘Good Samaritan’ Good? That Opinion Depends on the Beneficiary

    Helping a total stranger is generally viewed as morally better and more trustworthy than someone who helps a family member. But this is true only if the helper did not have to choose between those options. [NEWS Feb. 10, 2020] More

  • When asked about emergency situations, most people say they would spontaneously help another person. However, not everyone does so in real life, especially when there are other people around, a phenomenon known as the bystander effect. Traditional explanations for bystander apathy include three psychological factors: diffusion of responsibility, or the More

    Life preserver ring floating in water

    How Reflex Responses and Personality Play into the Bystander Effect

    When asked about emergency situations, most people say they would spontaneously help another person. However, not everyone does so in real life, especially when there are other people around, a phenomenon known as the bystander effect. Traditional explanations for bystander apathy include three psychological factors: diffusion of responsibility, or the More

  • Kitty Genovese's murder caught the attention of the public and psychological scientists alike, but new research indicates we’ve had the story all wrong for the last 50 years. More

    A New Look at the Killing of Kitty Genovese: The Science of False Confessions

    Kitty Genovese's murder caught the attention of the public and psychological scientists alike, but new research indicates we’ve had the story all wrong for the last 50 years. More

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