JustToThePoint English Website Version
JustToThePoint en español
JustToThePoint in Thai

The Bystander Effect

What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander, Elie Wiesel

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference, Elie Wiesel

Why do bystanders often stand and stare instead of helping the victim? Turns out this is a well-documented psychological phenomenon.A very revealing study was developed by Darley and Batson (1973), From Jerusalem to Jericho. A study of situational and dispositional variables in helping behavior inspired by the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite (a theologian), when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came to the place where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on him oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him, The parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:30-37.

It was conducted with students at a theological seminar who were sent to deliver a presentation on two topics: (a) Help condition, the parable of the Good Samaritan; (b) Task oriented condition, professional opportunities for seminarians. One group was told that they were late and the other that they still had a few minutes, but should go straight there. On their way, they passed a man who was slumped in an alley and in need of help.

A person not in a hurry may stop and offer help to a person in distress. The person in a hurry is likely to keep going. Ironically, he is likely to keep going even if he is hurrying to speak on the parable of the Good Samaritan, thus inadvertently confirming the point of the parable,” Darley and Batson, 1973.

The researchers found no differences between those who were going to give a sermon on the parable and those who were going to talk about possible vocational roles. In other words, “thinking about the Good Samaritan did not increase helping behavior, but being in a hurry decreased it […] Personality and religious variables (Religion as Means, End, and Quest) were not useful in predicting whether a person would help or not.

Of course, there are many more factors: characteristics of the victim (gender, ethnicity, body odour, etc.), characteristics of the witness (age, mood, gender) and the situation (ambiguity of the situation, number of people ― the greater the witnesses, the less likely people are to help ―), having a personal relationship or affiliation with the victim, someone who is already helping, capacity for empathy and solidarity of the witness, being skilled and knowledgeable, etc.

These results are just incredible! What shall we do?

We cling to memories and empty and big words as if they define us, but they don’t. What we do is what defines us, our actions and choices shape us. I really should know better by now, Anawim, # justtothepoint

However, laws will never be as harsh as your conscience. Do you want to be happy and have peace of mind? Practice personal integrity, be generous, and willing to help anyone, anytime.

Bitcoin donation

JustToThePoint Copyright © 2011 - 2024 Anawim. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Bilingual e-books, articles, and videos to help your child and your entire family succeed, develop a healthy lifestyle, and have a lot of fun.

This website uses cookies to improve your navigation experience.
By continuing, you are consenting to our use of cookies, in accordance with our Cookies Policy and Website Terms and Conditions of use.