The Bystander Effect & Social Influence

An Introvert's Garden Library
3 min readAug 11, 2021

Martin Luther says, “ The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

The Bystander Effect

The bystander effect is a social psychological theory that states that individuals are less likely to offer help when there are other people around. What discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation, against a bully, or during a sexual assault or other crime?

Ironically, people are more likely to take action to help when there are few or no other witnesses around. The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is for people o offer help to someone in need. The bystander effect refers to the fact of an observer who witnesses an emergency and withholds aid if the situation is being witnessed by a number of other people. It’s a sad truth that the bystander effect is a social phenomenon that promises more tragedies, more victims, and more bullying on earth.

What inhibits a person’s willingness to help someone in trouble? Latané and Darley attributed the bystander effect to two factors: diffusion of responsibility and social influence. Social influence means that individuals observe the behavior of those around them to determine how to act and what to react to.

Most people might be willing to help others without risking their own life. Oftentimes, the intervention and justice of bystanders is critically the only way to stop bullying and other crimes. For instance, students and employees should be encouraged to speak up when witnessing an act of bullying or a potential assault. Don’t expect others to be the first to do justice. Do your best to ensure the safety of the victim, the weak, or the bullied. Seek assistance for sure.

Avoidance of Bullying & Crime

If you’ve ever passed someone who’s in trouble or who is being bullied, by assuming someone else would come along to help, then you have fallen victim to the bystander effect, which is considered morally guilty. The bystander effect means that a group of onlookers deny their responsibility and do not help someone in need.

The most classic example of the bystander effect was the murder of New Yorker Kitty Genovese in 1964. She was attacked and stabbed by an assailant on her way home from work late at night. Over 38 strangers witnessed the process as she was attacked. Some of her neighbors heard her screams but didn’t call for help. Nearly 40 people had witnessed the attacks and didn’t contact the police. The bystander effect is the worst version of human indifference to anyone who is in need of help. They don’t want to get involved. They don’t want to put themselves in trouble. As more people show indifference and silence to the bullied and the weak, the wicked will enjoy the corruptive world more and the righteous will suffer more.