Lily is thirteen years old and tall for her age. One afternoon, she confronts a suspicious looking stranger near a young girl playing in the local park. The stranger takes to his heels when Lily challenges him. LilyÃÂs bravery is the talk of the neighbourhood. On learning of this, a student who is studying social psychology makes the comment: ItÃÂs just as well that LilyÃÂs usual playmates were not around or that little girl might not have received any help.
(Vaughan and Hogg, 2005, p.358)When it comes to helping others, studies have uncovered an apparent paradox in social psychology called the ÃÂbystander effectÃÂ (Weiten 2007, p.684). The bystander effect is a theory of pro-social or helping behaviour (Vaughan and Hogg, 2005, p. 538) and is defined as ÃÂthe phenomenon that the more people present when help is needed the less likely any one of them is to provide assistanceÃÂ (Penguin Dictionary of Psychology 1985, p.104).
This essay will critically discuss the above scenario, referring to the social psychology studentÃÂs comments, using the ÃÂbystander effectÃÂ theory of pro-social behaviour as its framework. Factors which influence ÃÂbystander interventionÃÂ and what makes it more or less likely that a person will help a stranger will also be identified and examined.
In the above scenario we see Lily confronted with a situation involving a potential predator. Lily, even though tall for her age, is still perceived as considerably young at only thirteen to confront a male adult alone and human logic suggests that had LilyÃÂs friends been present there would have been ÃÂsafety in numbersÃÂ and therefore a correspondingly greater probability that someone will help (School of Health and Human Services 2007, p.13).
However, Darley and Latane (1968, p. 377) founders in the area of helping behaviour and bystander effect research argue that when...