The Bystander Effect

The bystander effect or bystander apathy is a phenomenon where a person in need is less likely to receive help if there are others present. The concept was popularized by two social psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley. This happens as a result of diffusion of responsibility and social influence. When there are other observers present, the responsibility to take action is thought to be shared among all of them which makes individuals feel less compelled to act or help. This is referred to as diffusion of responsibility. Secondly, under social influence people tend to behave in socially acceptable ways. When others do not react to somebody’s distress, the individuals usually take this as a signal that neither a response is needed nor appropriate.