Bystander Effect

On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death and raped outside her Queens apartment building (New York City).  A total of 49 residents in 38 apartments reportedly heard her cries for help.  One resident called the police and said “a woman is being beat up, but she looks OK.”  The police didn’t come.  One resident went down to see what was happening and the criminal ran away only to return and continue the attack.  The 47 others assumed someone else would assist her or call the police.

The lesson is that 47 of 49 people assumed someone else would do something so they didn’t have to.  If you don’t act assuming someone else will, you may represent the vast majority.  This is also called “diffusion of responsibility”.  Be one of the 2 that acted, not one of the 47 that did nothing.