After reading the article on the bystander intervention in emergencies (ATTACHED), answer the following question: What are the main forces that lead a person not to respond (or to respond) in an emergency situation?

Describe a situation you have been in (or are familiar with) where you believe this phenomenon occurred. How did you feel, and how did you respond or not respond? Based on the readings, what main forces guided your response of lack thereof?

Use research from the Shapiro Library to support your claims.

To complete this assignment, review the Graduate Discussion Rubric document.



This is the study I selected for my project. The story of Kitty drew my attention because of what we see in the world today. Earlier this year, a teenage girl was videoed by her classmates as she was being beat up by another girl and no one intervened to stop the fight. She went home afterwards and went to sleep and died in her sleep. She was only 13 years old. The mother was devastated to learn that teachers were present but didn’t stop it because it was outside the school gates. Darley and Latane (1968) examined bystander intervention with the notion that the more people in a group, the less likely they are to aid in an emergency. They believed this was due to the term they called diffusion of responsibility where people felt less responsible because they believed other around them would help and they wouldn’t.

I witnessed a couple arguing at work and noticed she was crying a nd holding her face. I was afraid to intervene because he was a large male, but I immediately called the police and asked him to leave the establishment. He stood up over me and my other male coworkers realized what was going on and asked him to leave as well. I now understand why some people don’t intervene in these situations. My safety could have been at risk had my coworkers not arrived, but I couldn’t just leave her helpless, right?

Darley, J. M. & Latane, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8(4), 377-383.


Bystander intervention has now become a strategy to try and prevent various types of violence; such as: bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence and domestic violence. Bystander intervention is based on the idea that people make their decisions and focus their behaviors based on the reactions they get from other people in the area. In the article by Darley and Latane (1968), they mention that people that witness emergency situations, especially those that are violent, are in conflict. People have rational and irrational fears about what might happen to themselves in they interfere in a situation. In some cases, the presence of other onlookers can weaken the intervention. One person may delay or fail to help someone because they feel that other people are there and may be helping or already tried to help. Some people choose not to intervene out of personal safety or they just “don’t want to get involved”.

One situation that I can remember happened over the summer. My husband, myself, and our three children were coming back from a drive-thru animal safari (petting zoo place) and we were in our Jeep Wrangler, with the doors and roof off. We decided to go into a busier area to grab some dinner on our way home. We were sitting at a red light in a turn lane, when all of a sudden, a woman in the car next to us, jumps out of the passenger side, then a man jumps out of the backseat. They start yelling at each other and she’s trying to hit at him. He starts taking his shirt off and a watch off (that he threw at her). We sat there within a couple of feet from them, with no doors to close or windows to roll up. At this point I was getting very uncomfortable and feeling unsafe for my children. The driver finally gets out and tries to calm her down. The male in the situation starts walking off up the road and the woman goes after him. It was extremely chaotic and given this time in our society, I had no idea if any of them had a weapon. I mentioned to my husband about calling the police, but he said to wait it out since no one was actually physical yet. By this time, I am just praying the light will hurry up and change so that we can get out of that situation.

Thinking back, and learning about bystander intervention this week, the main force that drove my decision to not intervene was my family’s safety. I was more concerned with what could happen to me or my children than what was going on with this man and woman. Another force was the fact that we were not the only ones sitting there witnessing this event. There were several other cars around, and I was just hoping that someone else took it upon themselves to call the police.


Darley, J. M., & Latane, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8(4, Pt.1), 377–383.

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