Posted by & filed under Personality, Social Psychology.


Would You Jump In to Stop an Assault?



Recently in New York, there have been a number of hate crime incidents that have made big headlines in the news.  “That question — about the ethical responsibility to help a stranger in distress and the dynamics that prevent people from acting — has been the focus of research for decades, and helps inform some of the debate this week around two chilling incidents.  In one, a man pummels and chokes a subway passenger in New York into unconsciousness; in the other, an assailant on a busy Midtown street in Manhattan knocks a Filipino immigrant to the ground and then repeatedly kicks her head.  The videos, which were posted earlier this week, prompted swift condemnation, with many asking why witnesses had seemingly failed to intervene during the acts of violence. For many, the incidents revived a common complaint about the atomized selfishness of big city residents.”  Around the country there have been many hate crime assaults on Asian people.  In almost all instances there have been bystander witnesses to these horrific assaults and few, if any, interventions to help the victim.   Social Psychologists have studied the issue based on studies by Latané and Darley after the murder of Kitty Genovese.   The article examines the incidents, discusses the various results of studies on the topic, and looks at the recent work of psychologists in the field and cross cultural research that may change how we look at the original research. 

This article can be used in conjunction with the chapters on Social Psychology and provides many resource studies to discuss the topic. 



New York Times, April 3, 2021, by Andrew Jacobs




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•First, describe the incidents that are discussed in the article and focus on the absence of bystander intervention.

•What are the various hypotheses regarding why an individual might not intervene to help in a crisis?

•The article briefly discusses the Kitty Genovese incident and the studies by Latané and Darley.  What were their conclusions as to what prevented anyone from intervening to help?   Have their  explanations held up over time?

•What does cross cultural research from other countries tell us about the issue of bystander intervention?

•Looking, again, at the incidents in New York, would you have intervened or not intervened and why?


Bystander Intervention, Bystander Apathy, Social Psychology, Intervening in a Crisis, Intervening to Stop a Hate Crime

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