While reading about helping others this week, I came across something in particular that caught my eye. The book states that the first step to helping someone is noticing that something is wrong or unusual. The book also brings up the point that “people who live in big cities and noisy environments may become so used to seeing people lying on sidewalks or hearing screams that they begin to tune them out.” After reading this I realized that this statement is, unfortunately, very true. For most of us, we’ve become all too accustomed to the sight of a homeless person curled up on the streets or the desperate pleads of the needy for small donations and pocket change on the subway. Because of this “blindness” that many city-folk experience, they are then not able to, or choose not to, interpret what they’re seeing as an emergency and, further more, they do not provide help. When in large crowds, people begin to diffuse responsibility and become consumed in, what is known as, the bystander effect. I find this idea of distancing oneself from a situation and letting one’s peers handle it to be very interesting.
article, researchers studied the bystander effect and possible ways to
eliminate it in social settings. Researchers found that the most
important part of decreasing the bystander effect is to increase one’s
public self-awareness through the creation of accountability cues. When
individuals are singled out from a large crowd, they are more likely to
feel responsible for providing help and are, then, more likely to become
involved. The use of video cameras is one method which has proven to
increase self-awareness, as well as a way to boost or maintain one’s
reputation, and in turn, lowers the bystander effect. Someone who knows
that he is being watched instantly becomes more aware of how he acts
and, when faced with an opportunity to help someone, is more likely to
Going along with this point, I don’t know if
any of you are familiar with ABC’s show “What Would You Do?”. The show
deals with these same issues of when and why people help other people.
The show’s website offers a quiz that I think is both fun and
interesting. Check it out here and let me know what you think!