Many people may think that by not getting involved in crimes or violent situations, they are doing the right thing. They may believe that they are avoiding trouble, respecting the privacy of others, or following social norms. However, this is not a way to increase helping behavior related to crimes. In fact, it may have the opposite effect of making crimes more likely, more harmful, and more difficult to prevent.
What is Helping Behavior?
Helping behavior is any action that benefits another person or group, especially in times of need or distress. It can include offering assistance, providing support, showing empathy, or intervening in a crisis. Helping behavior can have positive effects on both the helper and the recipient, such as increasing well-being, reducing stress, enhancing self-esteem, and strengthening social bonds.
What is the Bystander Effect?
The bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation, against a bully, or during an assault or other crime. The more bystanders there are, the less likely any one of them will help. This phenomenon can be explained by several psychological factors, such as:
- Diffusion of responsibility: Bystanders may assume that someone else will take action or that they are not qualified to help.
- Pluralistic ignorance: Bystanders may look at the reactions of others to determine how serious the situation is and what is appropriate to do. If others appear calm or indifferent, they may conclude that there is no need to help.
- Evaluation apprehension: Bystanders may fear being judged negatively by others if they intervene or make a mistake.
- Cost-benefit analysis: Bystanders may weigh the potential risks and rewards of helping versus not helping. They may consider factors such as personal safety, legal liability, social approval, or time and effort.
How Can We Overcome the Bystander Effect?
The bystander effect can have tragic consequences for victims of crimes and violence. It can also create a sense of apathy and indifference in society, which can erode trust and cooperation. Therefore, it is important to overcome the bystander effect and increase helping behavior related to crimes. Some possible ways to do this are:
- Educating people about the bystander effect and its causes and effects.
- Encouraging people to take personal responsibility and moral accountability for their actions and inactions.
- Empowering people to act confidently and competently in emergency situations by providing them with skills and resources.
- Motivating people to act compassionately and altruistically by appealing to their values and emotions.
- Creating a culture of caring and solidarity by fostering social norms and expectations that support helping behavior.
Ignoring crimes is not a way to increase helping behavior related to crimes. It can have negative impacts on victims, perpetrators, bystanders, and society as a whole. By understanding the psychological barriers that prevent us from helping and by applying strategies that promote helping behavior, we can make a difference in reducing crime and enhancing well-being.