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The ‘bystander effect’ reconsidered

Sam Judah of the BBC writes on the concept of the ‘bystander effect’, also known as the “volunteer’s dilemma”, that has been used to explain why people watching a stranger in distress or need fail to help that person. It has long been thought that if several people watched a distressed person, nobody would help him/her because they knew others were watching and could possibly help also.

It now turns out that we can in fact be taught to be more helpful to strangers. The article also reveals that the willingness to help others may have to do with how much we identify with them.


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