The Bystander effect: Why we struggle to intervene in moments of distress

Clinical Psychologist Dr Cathy Angus says there a various factors to explain why one would be reluctant to intervene when confronted with a moment of conflict or distress.

Do you offer the victim a means of help or walk away?

While some people would rather not step in to avoid accountability, Angus says its both a social and psychological phenomenon.

Cases where individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present, they have done various experiments with one to five people in a room and the more you increase the number of people around the less do those people actually step in on an active basis to help the person.

Dr Cathy Angus, Clinical Psychologist

The decision has to be made very quickly and there is often an element of danger, stress and personal risk.

Dr Cathy Angus, Clinical Psychologist

So if somebody is stabbing somebody in the street you may hesitate very obviously and understandably and probably shouldn't step in if you don't have a weapon and you are not Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Dr Cathy Angus, Clinical Psychologist

Listen to the full conversation below...

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