Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recent, Sad Example of Bystander Effect

I was alerted to this story by several psychology teachers via listserves yesterday. I'll admit, even though I'm well aware of the bystander effect and its potential dangers, I still find this story shocking.

An April 24 story in the New York post details the chilling failure of numerous pedestrians to come to the aid of a dying homeless man who had been stabbed when he had recently come to the aid of a female under attack by the stabber. Surveillance video revealed that more than 20 people walked past the dying man as he laid on the sidewalk.

Firefighters found the body of the man more than an hour later when responding to a different call for aid. Apparently, at no point did anyone summoned aid for the man, despite the fact that several passers-by closely examined him (one even took a cell phone photo of the victim).

The story is eerily reminiscent of the 1964 Kitty Genovese case: a murder that took place under the noses of 38 neighbors who heard Ms. Genovese scream and plead for her life, but failed to call the police until after the killer had returned to the scene a third time and fatally stabbed his victim, 25 minutes after the initial attack.

Below is some of the surveillance video. Be aware, you may find it disturbing. I did.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video.

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