152. The bystander effect

In 1964 a young woman, Kitty Genovese, was the victim of a murder, in three separate attacks witnessed by thirty-eight different people in a respectable neighbourhood of Queens, NYC. None of them did anything about it, not even calling the police for nearly forty minutes. This event shocked the World and cast dire judgment on human nature. The psychologists Bibb LatanĂ© and John Darley, seeking to explain such apparent callousness, conducted experiments that unearthed what is now called the bystander effect. Nobody did anything because they all knew many of their neighbours would be witnessing the same thing. They all left it to someone else to help, and Kitty died. The same effect explains our current attitude to today’s problems. Global warming, inequality, refugee crisis. We all expect someone else, another country or citizen, whether at a national or individual level, to do something about it. While we do, and we remain passive bystanders, we risk the same outcome that befell Kitty 

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