Friday, October 7

how do bystanders react to emergencies?

Now I am not going to give you the article, Son, because that's way too heavy. But the abstract is given below. Now you might be wondering why I sent this to you? Well, for couple of reasons. First is to talk about what I have observed about you and second is to develop my own thoughts.

You wont usually be faced with emergency situations, but if you were, then you should know what to do. Your old dad has had a fair number of emergencies to deal with in his short life and unfortunately, I have the tendency to barrel in. Mainly because of my knee issue, I was helped by very many people so I have been trying to pay back since then. As you know, i am a qualified first aider as well and have been called to assist few times at work at people who have fallen ill or have had an accident. So when I observe you, you are careful. You observe the situation and are careful not to get involved in something that is beyond your ability to handle. Like when you were mugged, your behaviour was spot on, you came back home, you were not too excited and you assisted the police calmly and coolly. That is good and prudent. But remember son, sometimes you have to break this habit and be prepared for that.

Its like being a boy scout, be prepared always. You didn't join the scouts but I was one, long time back. Did the dip dip dah and knots and the bandana around my neck thing. Be prepared, always carry a rope with you for example. You never know. But the key thing to always carry around is your brains and smarts. For example, we have a book on how the SAS deal with emergency situations. You should read that. There could well be absolutely no reason for you to know how to skin a rabbit or know how to light a fire in a wood, but you never know when you might need it. I would have advised you to carry a Swiss knife as well, but in these days of terrorism and security checks, that might not be a good idea.

Also as you can see from the research, bystanders don't usually help out. This is also the reason why idiots slow down on the highway when there is an accident. So the way I see it, either help out or walk away, standing there like a gaping idiot doesn't help anybody.


  1. Research on bystander intervention has produced a great number of studies showing that the presence of other people in a critical situation reduces the likelihood that an individual will help. As the last systematic review of bystander research was published in 1981 and was not a quantitative meta-analysis in the modern sense, the present meta-analysis updates the knowledge about the bystander effect and its potential moderators. The present work (a) integrates the bystander literature from the 1960s to 2010, (b) provides statistical tests of potential moderators, and (c) presents new theoretical and empirical perspectives on the novel finding of non-negative bystander effects in certain dangerous emergencies as well as situations where bystanders are a source of physical support for the potentially intervening individual. In a fixed effects model, data from over 7,700 participants and 105 independent effect sizes revealed an overall effect size of g = –0.35. The bystander effect was attenuated when situations were perceived as dangerous (compared with non-dangerous), perpetrators were present (compared with non-present), and the costs of intervention were physical (compared with non-physical). This pattern of findings is consistent with the arousal-cost-reward model, which proposes that dangerous emergencies are recognized faster and more clearly as real emergencies, thereby inducing higher levels of arousal and hence more helping. We also identified situations where bystanders provide welcome physical support for the potentially intervening individual and thus reduce the bystander effect, such as when the bystanders were exclusively male, when they were naive rather than passive confederates or only virtually present persons, and when the bystanders were not strangers.

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