Use Your Skills Wisely and Morally to Help Yourself and Others..
We have all heard stories of someone needing emergency help on a busy sidewalk and passersby act as if the person doesn’t exist. This all too common phenomenon is called the bystander effect.
The probability of receiving help is inversely proportional to the number of bystanders. Ultimately, the more people around, the less likely one is to receive help from passersby.
Many explanations have been proffered for the bystander effect. Here are a few:
- Bystanders assume someone else will help, otherwise known as diffusion of responsibility.
- Fear of injury
- Fear of liability
- Social Influence – Bystanders may assume that the situation isn’t serious since others aren’t responding.
Be an Upstander:
At Krav Maga Houston, we teach students to be upstanders, rather than bystanders. That is, instead of watching, passing by, or filming a situation to post on social media, we promote positive action. Responding to the emergency needs of someone else can take many forms, ranging from calling emergency services or assigning roles to bystanders, to intervening physically, such as providing CPR or saving someone from a natural disaster or physical attack. Whether to intervene physically is a personal decision but there is much that can be done short of physical intervention.
An understanding of social psychology can increase the likelihood that you receive assistance in an emergency, whether for yourself or when assisting someone else. Here are a few suggestions:
- If you witness someone in an emergency, call 911 if you can’t physically intervene, or doing so may result in grave bodily injury, or death, to you.
- If you intervene physically and other people are around, point to a bystander and instruct them to call 911. Pointing to a person makes it more difficult for them to diffuse responsibility.
- If you are injured and need assistance, point to someone and say, “You, help me please.” To increase the effectiveness of this statement even further be more descriptive, such as “You, in the green shirt, help me please.”
- If another person is being attacked, simply shouting “Stop,” or yelling that the police are on the way, may be enough to make the attack stop or inspire others to join the chorus.
There are times that none of the above strategies are necessary once YOU step up and take action. If no one else is helping, YOU are in charge. Once you take action, it is most likely that others will step in to help. Be an upstander!
Similarly, interpretations of the context played an important role in people’s reactions to a man and woman fighting in the street. When the woman yelled, “Get away from me; I don’t know you,” bystanders intervened 65 percent of the time, but only 19 percent of the time when the woman yelled “Get away from me; I don’t know why I ever married you”.