Bystander Intervention Effect

= bystander apathy effect. This phenomenon was described by the American social psychologists Bibb Latane (1937- ) and John Darley (1938- ), and suggests that bystanders are engaged in a series of decisions, rather than a single decision, as whether to intervene or not in situations when help is needed by another person; for example, the bystander must notice that something is happening; the bystander must interpret the happening as an emergency event; the bystander must decide that she or he has a responsibility to become involved; the bystander must decide on the form of assistance to give the "victim;" and the bystander must make a decision as to how to implement the previous decision. Research findings from the laboratory and field settings indicate the importance that social factors play in the bystander effect (also called group inhibition of helping) where the actions of others in the situation (such as passivity versus activity on the part of other onlookers) may serve as cues to the bystander's involvement. The bystander effect concerning "altruism," "prosocial behavior," or "helping behavior" refers to the finding that the more people who are present when help is needed, the less likely any one of them is to provide assistance. Even when a bystander interprets the event to be an emergency, the presence of other people may help to "diffuse responsibility" for taking any action [cf., bandwagon effect - accelerated diffusion of a pattern of behavior through a group of people, the probability of any individual adopting it increasing with the proportion of those who have already demonstrated the target behavior; social loafing effect -coined by B. Latane in 1979; also called the Ringelmann effect, named after the French agricultural engineer Maximilien Ringelmann (1861-1931) - refers to the tendency for one to exert less effort on a task when working as part of a team or cooperative group than when working on one's own; and cost-reward model of helping - suggests that individuals consider the costs versus the rewards of helping and not helping others in emergency/danger situations; in more general terms, cost-reward models aid individuals and organizations in the calculation of the highest "reward-to-cost ratios" which serve as indicators and directives for personal and/or corporate action]. Factors that relate to the bystander's personality (cf., negative state relief model - an approach that states that individuals who are in a bad mood themselves help others for the purpose of improving their own bad mood; also, helping behavior may be used by some people in conditions of stress, boredom, or inactivity for the purpose of avoiding or escaping dysphoric moods) and to demographic characteristics have been found to provide a poorer prediction of bystander intervention behavior than do the particular features of the "emergency" situation. See also ALLPORT'S CONFORMITY HYPOTHESIS; DECISION-MAKING THEORIES; DEINDIVIDUATION THEORY; EMPATHY-ALTRUISM HYPOTHESIS; SOCIAL IMPACT, LAW OF. REFERENCES

Latane, B., & Darley, J. (1968). Group inhibition of bystander intervention in emergencies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 10, 215-221.

Latane, B., & Darley, J. (1970). The unresponsive bystander: Why doesn't he help? New York: Appleton-Cen-tury-Crofts.

(1979). Many hands make light the work: Cases and consequences of social loafing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 822832.

Bar-Tal, D. (1976). Prosocial behavior: Theory and research. New York: Halsted.

Eisenberg-Berg, N. (1982). Development of prosocial behavior. New York: Academic Press.

Dovidio, J. (1984). Helping behavior and altruism: An empirical and conceptual overview. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology. Vol. 17. New York: Academic Press.

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