The bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation, against a bully or during an assault or other crime.
The concept of the bystander effect was developed after the murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City in 1964.
It happens because of:
- the diffusion of responsibility – the more onlookers there are the less personal responsibility individuals will take; and
- social influence – individuals monitor the behaviour of others around them to determine how to act.
But there are ways to be an active bystander, rather than passive.