Lily is 13 years old and tall for her age. One afternoon, she confronts a suspicious-looking stranger loitering near a young girl playing in the local park. The stranger takes to his heels when Lily challenges him. Lily's bravery is the talk of the neighbourhood. On hearing of this a student who is studying social psychology makes the comment: It's just as well Lily's usual playmates were not around or that little girl might not have received any help (Vaughan and Hogg, 2005, p. 358).
Critically discuss what the social psychology student was referring to in the above scenario using a theory of pro-social behaviour as a framework.
The Bystander effect is regarded as a well established empirical phenomenon in social psychology (LatanÃÂ© B & Nida S, 1981). The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology (Reber AS, 1985) defines the bystander effect as "the phenomenon that the more people present when help is needed the less likely any one of them is to provide assistance."
This phenomenon came to light after the murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City, the Bystander effect is also know as the "Genovese effect" or "Bystander Apathy". Research demonstrating this effect has manipulated the perceived presence of others and has consistently found this effect.
The classic Bystander studies (Clark RD & Word LE, 1974) have consistently shown that the presence of others inhibits helping behaviour. However, current theoretical accounts stipulate that the immediate or imagined presence of others exerts its influence on helping because these others involved in the situation at hand. In fact, if individuals know that immediate or imagined others cannot possibly help, then bystander apathy will not occur; individuals will behave as if alone (Bickman L, 1972).
Traditional theoretical accounts, such as the diffusion of responsibility explanation (Darley JM & LatanÃÂ©...