Munich scientists study bystander effect

December 6, 2005

A Munich, Germany, study indicates the larger the group watching someone in trouble in a public place, the less likely anyone will offer to help.

The situation is called bystander effect, and now research at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich suggests even when accompanied by another person, individuals are more likely to intervene if the situation is dangerous or violent.

Researchers told study participants they were going to monitor interaction between a man and a woman who had never met. In fact, those two people were actors, and after a few minutes the interaction became violent.

The researchers varied the degree of apparent danger by altering the relative sizes of the actors. In some experiments a second observer, who had been instructed not to respond to the situation, accompanied the recruits.

In situations of low danger, 50 percent of observers tried to help the victim if they were watching alone, but this dropped to 6 percent when a bystander was present. In situations of high danger, 44 percent tried to help when alone, but so did 40 percent of those accompanied by a bystander.

Lead author Peter Fischer's findings appear in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Genetic risk factor identified for Parkinson's disease

Related Stories

Genetic risk factor identified for Parkinson's disease

January 15, 2010

An international team of doctors and human geneticists has identified a new genetic risk factor for Parkinson's disease. The institutions involved in the study were the Institute of Human Genetics of Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen ...

The tangled NETs of the immune system

April 28, 2011

When scientists can’t believe their eyes, it is very likely that they are on to something quite extraordinary. This was precisely the case for Arturo Zychlinsky and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Infection ...

The history of medical studies of male infertility

September 10, 2014

In 1881 a German couple – Herr and Frau B - were trying to get pregnant with no success. They consulted Dr Levy, a gynaecologist based in Munich, for help. Levy was determined to approach the problem in a scientific manner ...

Recommended for you

Gravitational wave detectors to search for dark matter

August 16, 2018

Gravitational wave detectors might be able to detect much more than gravitational waves. According to a new study, they could also potentially detect dark matter, if dark matter is composed of a particular kind of particle ...

Flexible color displays with microfluidics

August 16, 2018

A new study published on Microsystems and Nanoengineering by Kazuhiro Kobayashi and Hiroaki Onoe details the development of a flexible and reflective multicolor display system that does not require continued energy supply ...

Sprawling galaxy cluster found hiding in plain sight

August 16, 2018

MIT scientists have uncovered a sprawling new galaxy cluster hiding in plain sight. The cluster, which sits a mere 2.4 billion light years from Earth, is made up of hundreds of individual galaxies and surrounds an extremely ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.