Since ignore or help when viewing others in

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Last updated: June 3, 2019

Since its emergence of Darley & Latané’s (1968) research, the bystander effect has become a phenomenon with multifaceted components that determines how human behavior is influenced.

  Research has discovered that the offer of assistance in a distressing situation is not guaranteed, even when help is explicitly requested.  Social behaviorists continue to research reasons why people chose to ignore or help when viewing others in distress.  Indeed, the assumption that people degenerate into inferior creatures by virtue of belonging to groups has crept into many other lines of research in social psychology, including social loafing, crowding, social facilitation, and diffusion of responsibility in bystander intervention (Baumeister & Finkel, 2010).  While no training program can provide 100% participation and compliance, the focus on a continuous public awareness program may assist with other areas such as social situations and cultural differences.  The influence of group cohesiveness in combination with the social responsibility norm (Rutkowski, Gruder & Romer 1983) may have a powerful effect if bystanders choose to help a victim and not passively watching the situation unfold. Researchers continue to show the importance of both shared identity between bystander and victim and the inclusiveness of salient identity for increasing the likelihood of emergency intervention (Levine, Prosser, Evans & Reicher 2005), understanding group processes from the perspective of the bystander.   Latané & Darley’s (1968) groundbreaking research helped us to look through the lens of the bystander, understand helping behavior methods and develop intervention models directed at bystanders.  Nevertheless, training programs via prosocial public awareness positively impacted continued knowledge seeking for bystanders and, in contrast, social response had strong positive effects on both new knowledge seekers’ contribution consistent with the social exchange theory (Yan & Jian 2017).

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  Continued research on the social process, and intervention models will need to be directed at bystanders to build assertiveness, awareness, bravery by helping bystanders with the instructions on how to effectively intervene when witnessing a person in an emergency to continue the public self-awareness campaign efforts.   


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