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The Bystander effect

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Published on Dec 14, 2010

The bystander effect or Genovese syndrome is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases where individuals do not offer help in an emergency situation when other people are present. The probability of help has in the past been thought to be inversely related to the number of bystanders; in other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help.

Diffusion of responsibility is a social phenomenon which tends to occur in groups of people above a certain critical size when responsibility is not explicitly assigned. This phenomenon rarely ever occurs in small groups. In tests, when in groups of three or fewer, everyone in the group took action. This is as opposed to when in groups of over ten, where in almost every test no one took action. This mindset can be seen in the phrase "No one raindrop thinks it caused the flood".

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