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PSYA02H3 Lecture Notes - Murder Of Kitty Genovese, Social Loafing

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Steve Joordens

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PSA02 Feb 27
Bystander Interference
Kitty Genovese (1964) 38 people stayed silent for 35 minutes
A woman was being chased by an attacker who was stabbing her, around a
parking lot of an apartment complex. People were actually watching this and did
nothing. Kitty ended up dying in front of everyone.
This began a bunch of studies of why people would not try to step in and help. Example
a woman is writing a survey. Smoke comes from under door, subject goes to find
In another part, there is one subject and a bunch of confederates. She doesn’t
stand up to do anything.
o The more people that were present in a situation, the less likely people are
to help.
o Diffusion of responsibility: if it’s one-on-one and the other person dies, the
guilt is all on you. If a group lets a person die, then it’s the group’s fault.
o Also, there is always the assumption that someone else in the group is
more equipped to handle the situation pushing off of responsibility
o Conformity if they’re not reacting, then everything must be fine. I
shouldn’t react or else I look like an idiot.
Assistance requires:
Noticing and correctly interpreting the situation
Assuming responsibility for helping (diffusion of
Considering costs of intervention and concluding
they are not too high
Then implementing the chosen course of action
Social Facilitation and Loafing
Social Facilitation the enhancement of a person’s
performance due to the presence of other people …
common for simple behaviour but less so for complex
Example: bikers improve when in groups, racing against each other
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