You're walking down a bustling street next to a park. The sun is shining so a lot of people are out making the most of the weather.
You notice a man and woman arguing in a doorway. He's forcing himself on her, and she's crying. Others have noticed what's happening, but everyone walks by. Some are laughing and taking photos. You assume it's just a lover's quarrel and keep on walking too.
Congratulations! You've fallen victim to the bystander effect!
On the 13th of October in 2011, Wang Yue, a two-year old Chinese girl was crossing a narrow road in Foshan, Guangdong when she was hit by two vehicles.
She lay bleeding on the road for more than seven minutes. CCTV footage shows that during this time, 18 passers-by noticed her and walked around her.
Finally she was helped by a female rubbish scavenger, but sadly died of her injuries eight days later.
What can we do about it?
We have a moral responsibility to come to the aid of those around us. Being aware that more eye-witnesses may result in less action being taken, we can consciously promote ourselves to good Samaritan.
One possible reason why large groups result in less help is the ability for people to blend into the crowd and become anonymous. To combat this, you can try to bring accountability to others. Ask them why they aren't helping. In this case, be careful not to accept the response as justification for not helping yourself.
Other posts in the series:
- The lies we tell ourselves - the just-world fallacy
- The lies we tell ourselves - the cheerleader effect
- The lies we tell ourselves - the hindsight bias
- The lies we tell ourselves - authority bias
- The lies we tell ourselves - the halo effect
- The lies we tell ourselves - the gambler's fallacy
- The lies we tell ourselves - the sunk cost fallacy
- The lies we tell ourselves - the framing effect
- The lies we tell ourselves - cognitive dissonance
- The lies we tell ourselves - confirmation bias