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Factors which are dependent upon bystander intervention

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Bystander Behaviour Bystander behaviour is a much researched very complex issue. This essay will take a look at ideas and theories of Latane and Darley, Piliavin and Batson, related to the subject of bystander behaviour. Issues to be identified include situational influence, determinants in helping behaviour, and the ways in which determinants are identified and processed. A case which clearly shows situational influence is that of Kitty Genovese (1964). Kitty was attacked by a man and stabbed to death; her screams alarmed the attacker to run off. However when no one came to Kitty's aid, her attacker returned sexually assaulted and killed her. 38 people admitted to hearing screaming and chose to be apathetic in response. The indifference displayed in such a horrific situation brought much public attention. Following this incident Latane and Darley studied dynamics of bystander behaviour. Latane and Darley (1970) devised a cognitive model to explain bystander behaviour. How many are present is believed to impact on response to others and whether assistance is deemed to be necessary. ...read more.


It is also easy to make the assumption that others have already identified and responded to a situation, this paradox can be dangerous. This study goes some way to implicate people experience diffusion of responsibility even in situations that display themselves as hazardous to oneself if no action is taken. Piliavin et al's (1981) model for the explanation of bystander behaviour differs from Latane and Darley's model. Piliavin's model places great significance on interaction between victim, situation and potential helper. Piliavin suggests that gender, victim type and ethnic origin are key components in bystander behaviour. Characteristics displayed are a conjunction of situational occurrence (i.e. diffusion of responsibility) and individual (this relates to people's varying perceptions of a situation, reasoning for and against intervention). Piliavin's model is useful in addressing why people act in certain ways and how to account for this and potentially improve situations. The arousal: cost-reward model relates to persons behaviour in both an emergency and a non-emergency situation and proposed by Piliavin et al (1981) ...read more.


In response to Anderson (1974) Piliavin states: 'Not coincidentally, {these factors}...have also been demonstrated to be related to greater levels of bystander arousal'. (Piliavin 1981). Piliavin tested his theory in a field experiment on the New York Underground. The study compared people's response to a person with a cane and a person who appeared drunk and was struggling on the underground. Helping behaviour was markedly higher in relation to the person with the cane, rather than the one who appeared to be drunk. This links cost/reward analysis and shows that it is apparent in general everyday situations. In conclusion the research of Latane and Darley and Piliavin et al, although differing in accountability for the bystander response both indicate species have innate traits to protect 'their own'. It seems interactions within a situation, number of individuals present, and perception of potential benefit and loss; are judgements which come into effect when faced with a situation on which another may be solely dependent. Even if it is clear that someone/ or a situation requires input people may choose to stand back and justify this by perceived personal needs. The case of Kitty Genovese shows this. 1088 words. ...read more.

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