Monday, October 1, 2007

My Own Bystander Effect Experience

Over the weekend I had my own experience with the bystander effect and I will recall the event with reference to Darley & Latane's Multi-stage Model.

On Saturday night my family and I noticed a disturbance (Stage 1- noticing the event). There were a few people outside of one house, however there was no one inside. The three males outside proceeded to destroy the letterbox, tried to kick the door open and attempted to jump over the fence into the backyard (Stage 2 - interpreting the event). The immediate neighbours to the house were drawn out of their home by the racket.

My mother and I talked about calling the police, however my brother stated that the people who were ouside watching on had probably already called the police. Therefore he assumed no personal responsibility to take any action as someone else would do it(bystander effect). However, after reading about the bystander effect I encouraged mum that we probably should still call the police (Stage 3-personal responsibility). I rang and recalled the details to the police and they said they would send a car around to check (Stage 4 & 5- deciding to act and acting).

I have previously become a bystander who does not intervene but after this assignment I am beginning to change my ways.


Karen Woods said...

Hi Bec,
I've experienced bystander effect and it has fascinated me ever since.

I was working in Civic, on my way home loaded up with shopping from lunch time, walking to my car.

At a busy intersection, which I'd just crossed,there was a car crash.

I stood looking at the car that was hit and saw 2 ladies in the front, who weren't moving. I assumed they were in shock or injured. There were several other people standing around witnessing this - it was rush hour.

As I was fully loaded up with bags etc, I hoped someone else would go and check on them. Nobody budged - just stood there watching. I couldn't believe it.

So after a minute or two I went to them myself and saw the middle-aged woman driver and her elderly mother looking shocked but also clearly not being able to open the door to get out. I was worried they'd get hit again if they stayed there so I opened the door from the outside and got the driver out. And then I noticed the toddler in the car seat in the back seat.

It was eerily quiet by the way - nobody saying anything, nobody crying. By this time, the young male driver of the car who hit them (he was not at fault by the way) had parked his car safely and come back to help.

We got the driver and passengers out of the car and walked them over to a nearby office building, got the elderly lady a chair and drink of water, and then we pushed their car to a safer place.

In all this time, not one other person came to help us.

Incredible but true, and so I've found the bystander effect quite a fascinating theory after seeing it for myself.

Jess said...

Hi Bec,

Good on you for reporting the incident to the police. I had wondered so many times what i would do if i was a witness of an incident, would i stop and help or would i expect someone else to stop. I was first on a car crash scene last year and it was lucky that I stopped, it ended up being my best friends sister who had crashed into an elderly couple. My friends and I witnessed the crash and we stopped and talked to the elderly couple to try and calm them down and help them out of their car. It was quite a scary experience but im glad I stopped as was able to help out.

Rach said...

Hi Bec, my brother recently came to stay at my house, whilst I was at work, he was watching a movie in my living room when he heard a loud bang. Given he used to be a volunteer in rescue he was pretty sure is was an accident so ran outside to check. A motor bike had T-boned a car and the rider was lying on the road. In the 60seconds it took my brother to get to the crash site there were already 20people standing around watching. My brother attended to the rider as well as checking the driver of the car. Interestingly the rider had been driving with a friend who was now running around in extreme shock, no one would go anywhere near him, even though they could see my brother clearly had his hands full. He went over to try and get the friend off the road and to stop him from hyperventilating.

By the time the police and ambulance arrived there were over 50 bystanders. Of that 50 only two had come over and tried to help. I thought this was amazing, that people are willing to just stand and watch and not even try to help at all.