This is for my Social Psychology class - for assessment and communication. I hope you find my thoughts interesting and please feel free to comment!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Witnessing "Bystander effect"

After posting my blog I noticed that Bec has posted some extremely interesting and relevant examples of bystander effect - I have added a link to one which discussed the lady I discuss within my post. Bec has several different examples of bystander effect on her blog which really emphasise the impact this concept has upon everyone in society.

This is my personal experience with bystander effect...While at woden plaza last weekend I noticed a well dressed, older male completely slouched down in his chair in the food court. ( I mention his appearance and description as this type of situation occurred, I think in Western Australia - please correct me if I am wrong - a few years ago and speculation as to why no one helped/noticed was surrounding her appearance and description). Although he appeared as though he was sleeping I was worried that maybe something horrible had happened to him and with "bystander effect" in full force everyone who saw him just assumed he was okay and besides someone else will check on him. I told my friend who I was with that we should check if he was okay, but my friend was like "no don't worry, see that cleaner is sending a message through about him now." I noticed that the cleaner who was reporting the older man was also asking a nearby shop assistant who replied "he has been there for ages, I think he is just sleeping." I felt weary about approaching the man in case he really was just sleeping and would be startled and flip out if I were to wake him. Consequently I was convinced not to worry and we walked off. When we went past a few minutes later luckily a young man was kneeling down talking to him.

This made me even more aware of the "bystander effect" and how I even fell into this trap... of being concerned also about my own safety over that of another person who may have been in a critical condition. This got me thinking about "Altruism" and the common thought that no act is truly altruistic. I think this scenario could lead me into several other psychological concepts however I will leave it there. Any information or comments surrounding a similar situation or thoughts regarding what you would do in this situation would be great. I am glad I saw he was okay otherwise it would probably still be on my mind. Next time I hope I listen to my own instincts and not be discouraged by another person or my personal concern for myself.



Bec said...

Hi Zoe,
Your personal experience is a powerful example of how each of us, even if we do have intentions to act, still can fail to act. After reading your story, i remembered an incident at work. I came across an elderly man on one of our seats near a desk at work. I wasn't sure if he was just resting so i stayed at the desk for a bit trying to decide what to do. In the meantime a woman came up and found out from him that he wasn't ok. We got him some water, and it turns out that he had just been released from hospital that morning. One of my coworkers offered to drive him home, however he collasped in the car park and went to hospital in the ambulance.

My own hesitance to act is now disappointing to me, i didn't want to approach him if he was just resting and bother him. I now wish i had taken the initative.

Anna said...

Hi Zoe,

I found your story very interesting and unfortunately I too have been more concerned about my own safety at times and participated in the "Bystander Effect" hoping that someone else would do the right thing.
I often see people who are pulled up on the side of the road with car troubles but continue on my way without thinking to stop and offer any help. I assume that they will have a mobile and will be able to call someone to rescue them but I guess this would not always be the case.

Mike said...

hey all,
Yeah i'm guilty of the 'bystander effect' to. I think most ppl are at some stage. I never pull over if someones got car troubles because they might rob me. You never know!!!

Fi Braybrooks said...

Hey Zoe, I can relate to that experience as in highschool I conducted a psychological experiement for class invovling dropping papers in a shopping centre to see if anyone would assist me - the catch was that I performed the task 10 times while clearly physically able and then 10 times with a walking aid - when i was 'physically able' no-one helped me pick up the dropped papers - one man actually walked over the papers at one point when i was picking them up! Then when i was with the walking aid 9/10 times someone helped me pick up the papers. I noticed that when i was phsycially able people did look at me picking up the papers and just kept walking since i was obviously capable of picking them up myself...!