Science in Christian Perspective



The Sociology of Bystander Apathy
13M North Orleans
Bowling Green, Ohio

From: JASA 37 (March 1985): 31-39

The recent New Bedford Tavern Rape has again drawn attention to the
bystander apathy phenomenon. A review of the literature finds that there are
numerous sociological and psychological factors that operate to inhibit helping
behavior. Among these are the tendency that the larger the number of
bystanders, the more defused the responsibility; being suddenly faced with a
crime causes problems in interpreting what is happening, and with knowing
just how to respond. Helping one's neighbor in a crisis situation is obviously an
important part of the Christian ethic. Love of neighbor is the second most
important commandment, the first being love of God. In that it is incumbent
upon a Christian to help those in need, especially one in the clutches of a victim
role, there are various ways to facilitate bystander emergency helping behavior.
These include training in the skills of helping, anticipatory socialization, and
an inculcation of the helping ethic as part of one's religious training. Training
has been shown to be effective to facilitate helping behavior. The churches can
play a central role in dealing with this important aspect of Christian social

The hesitancy of bystanders to render aid to crime or accident victims is baffling to many persons. The New Bedford, Massachusetts "tavern rape," which Newsweek (1983) called "beyond exaggeration," has again illustrated the well-known Bystander Apathy phenomenon. A horrible crime takes place, but the "bystanders" who are in a position to help are reticent to intervene. Why do they often totally avoid giving aid?

The "Big Dan's Tavern" case is unusual only in its extent-the 21-year-old woman was assaulted and repeatedly raped for more than an hour-and-a-half in front of about a dozen male customers. The victim was both raped and forced to perform oral sex on the barroom floor and a pool table. As the news media often asked: "Didn't [the bystanders] ... at least owe her a phone call to the police?" (Press, 1983:79)

In most states, bystanders are not legally obligated to help crime victims. Criminal behaviors are acts of commission, not omission. Incidents as the above, however, have motivated lawmakers to consider bystander laws, some already receiving support. So far, only Minnesota and Rhode Island have enacted "dutyto-rescue" laws in response to the New Bedford Case. Up to this time only Vermont had a law which attempted to deal with the problem-merely a fine of $100 for failing to assist someone "gravely endangered." So far no one has been prosecuted under this law (Cunningham, 1984).

The case which motivated the classic studies by Latane and Darley (1970) occurred in 1962. An estimated 38 New Yorkers observed a 45-minute ordeal which resulted in the murder of Kitty Genovese. Of the three dozen people that came to their windows and saw her cry out in terror, not a single one came to her assistance. The case, although it caused massive public outcry, did not produce any significant legislation (Cunningham, 1984).

Similar cases abound. At least 30 people watched a man beaten and stabbed to death by a stranger in New York's Central Park (Daily Sentinel- Tribune, Bowling Green, OH, August 25, 1980, p. 17). Although repeatedly stabbed in the face, neck, and back with a 28-inch piece of wood, of the 40 observers only a few who saw the attack tried to locate the police, and then only after some time elapsed. The officers rushed to the scene to find the murderer, Jimmy Jones, still beating his victim. The altercation was no family disagreement. Blood was "everywhere," and the murderer was obviously trying-and came close-to decapitating the recipient of his wrath.

Another case, Andrew More Mille, was stabbed in the stomach in front of 11 other riders as he rode the train home from work. The 17-year-old boy bled to death; those who observed the homicide simply went on their way, seemingly nonchalant about the event (of course, what they were thinking one cannot know).

When the writer worked in Jackson State Prison, several inmates commented that they had little fear of bystanders who may have observed them in the process of carrying out their criminal activities-they learned from experience that most will not interfere. Criminals obviously prefer to conduct their illegal activities with as few observers as possible but, especially for street crimes, bystanders do not necessarily dissuade them from criminal behavior. Only if they were relatively inexperienced in crime did they possess a high level of fear of bystanders. Further, several inmates felt the larger the crowd, the less the need for concern. They became aware of this generalization through personal experiences or their criminal subculture information network (or even possibly by reading sociology books).

Is bystander apathy a gauge of a sick society, as some claim? Although usually less than a whole chapter is devoted to the phenomenon in social psychology textbooks, most now discuss it. It is clearly a phenomenon which, at the least, contributes to major contemporary social problems, especially crime (Pomazal and Jaccard, 1976). It also has clear implications for Christianity.

Christianity and the Brother's Keeper Ethic

An important aspect of Christianity has always been helping others in need. A specific illustration of the many examples of this principle is the Good Samaritan parable. The account is about a man who was a while going from Jerusalem to Jericho. Stripped clothes, he was beaten to the extent that he was dead. This excellent example of the bystander shows that the dying man, ignored by all ex certain Samaritan who, 11 moved with pity," 

Helping of all types is a central tenet of Christianity, and many argue it the central doctrine of the Christian faith.

the wounds of the injured man and poured oil and wine (as an antiseptic) on them, a costly procedure. The Samaritan then took the injured man to an inn and took care of him, giving two denarii to the innkeeper instructing him to "take care of this man and whatever you spend besides this, I will repay you when I come back here." After relating this parable, Jesus commanded his listeners to "do the same yourself," clearly teaching the imperative to help others in distress.

Helping of all types is a central tenet of Christianity, and many argue it is the central doctrine of Christian faith. The greatest commandment is to "love God with one's whole heart and soul," the second greatest is to "love one's brothers and sisters with one's whole heart and soul. " Even agape love precludes doing nothing while one's neighbor is caught in the clutches of the victim role (James 2:8, Rom. 13:9; 15:21, Gal. 5:14). How to facilitate helping behavior is the subject of this paper.

How Common Is Bystander Apathy?

It is difficult to judge from newspaper accounts the extent of this phenomenon. Situations where many persons observe a brutal murder are more likely to receive press coverage than those in which a person attempting a homicide was forcefully stopped by a bystander. In the latter situation, homicide did not occur and, at best, the event may be defined as an altercation, an unnewsworthy event that is often not even reported to the police. Even if court adjudication resulted, it would most likely be "assault with attempt to do great bodily harm. " Obviously, sometimes people help and sometimes they don't-they may even help in life threatening situations more often than not. And not helping may more often make headlines. The only way to gather accurate data is random interviews.

The research that has been completed indicates that the problem is widespread. Harold Takooshian staged mock crimes to explore the reasons for public "indifference" to other's difficulties (Gergen and Gergen, 1981). In one example, a man carried a seemingly unconscious woman from an apartment building, threw her into the trunk of a car, closed it, and drove off. In 20 replications, virtually no witnesses stopped the man or even bothered to record the car's license number or call the police. In another experiment, it was arranged for a policeman armed with a gun, nightstick, and handcuffs, to be in an area where a confederate, faking a theft, jimmied a door open and walked off with obviously valuable coats and cameras. Although not a single witness in this experiment spoke to the policeman, five witnesses warned the "thief" to watch out for the cop! Interviews of observers of such mock crimes have caused researchers to conclude that bystander apathy clearly encourages crime. The major concern though must be what determines when help will be given-and why help was not given in blatant extreme cases, such as those discussed above.

The Psychology of Helping, A Complex Problem

Although the phenomenon is labeled "apathy," Latane and Darley conclude that indifference is only part of the reason for not helping. In the Kitty Genovese murder, they note, many observers did not merely look once and then ignore what they saw, but stared out of their windows. Were they caught, fascinated, distressed or even frozen in terror at what was happening? Many were not only unwilling to act, but also unwilling to turn away. Some have suggested that the reason they did nothing was that they were immobilized by terror and fright, unable to believe that what was taking place before them was, in fact, real. The scene in front of them was, after all, a rare reality which was in total contrast to their everyday experience. The shock of the events, some suggest, not apathy, may have immobilized them. The same behavior has been observed when attempted suicides, drownings and similar tragedies occur. Thus, helping behavior is complex.

Most theories of behavior are based on considerations of rewards and punishments, assuming essentially selfish behavior is a primary motivator. Unless one grants that anticipated ego rewards (thanks from the victim and the victim's family, the psychic satisfaction of helping someone, etc.) are the main rewards (the most common explanation) it is not necessarily simple to explain how people overcome the normal resistance to helping others (Pomazal and Jaccard, 1976).

Assuming that it is painful to watch someone suffer, the bystander can avoid this pain by one of the following courses:

1. Avoid the situation by leaving the area, or 2. By continuing with business as usual; or

3. Become involved by trying to help the person and thereby alleviating personal anguish (the most rational, humane approach).

With this last approach, when the victim's attacker is subdued, the victim is no longer being stabbed, the horrible scene stopped, and the observer no longer has to suffer watching it. Thus, a common explanation as to why most of us behave altruistically is that society rewards this behavior (Begley, 1984). Every school child has read about altruistic heroes. We are socialized to believe that to save or even help another life is a wonderful thing (Nash, 1983). This view is conveyed through tales of unselfish heroes that are commonly portrayed in storybooks and folk tales. A good recent example is the case of the Washington, D.C., plane crash at which a middle-aged businessman risked (and lost) his life helping others out of the icy water. His actions were praised repeatedly in the mass media and even by Congress.

Helping Behavior Depends on the Situation

Research on helping in non-emergency situations has found that when something small is asked for, such as the time of day, a high of about 85% freely respond (Latane and Darley, 1970). The actual rate may be higher for the reason that some of those not giving the

Jerry Bergman holds a Bachelor's degree with the equivalent of a major in Psychology, Sociology, Education, and Biology, a Master's degree in Education and Psychology, and a Doctorate in Evaluation and Research and Psychology, all from Wayne State University in Detroit. He is currently completing his second Doctorate in Sociology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. His last academic position was as Associate Professor of Psychology at Spring Arbor College in Spring Arbor, Michigan.

time decline for valid reasons; they may not own a watch, may not bear the request or understand English. When asked for directions, a New York study completed in 1968 (n = 1,520 ), found that 84% complied, a request for change for "a quarter" 73%, to give their names 39% (a strange request), and when asked to give the requester "a dime," only 34% did so. Again, some may not have helped because they could not (did not have a dime, did not hear the request, etc.). When something small is asked for, whether the request is answered also depends upon the reason given for the request (Latane and Darley, 1970). If the experimenter added that the dime was needed to make a telephone call, the percent helping went from 34% to 64%. Thus, if help is given depends on how the potential helper perceives the situation.

The Influence of Sex

The sex of the asker affects most situations-in the above study female requesters were helped
58% of the time, males only 46% (significant at the .02 level). Latane and.Darley (1970:14) also found that in many situations, "females were almost twice as likely to receive help as males when alone and three times as likely when in same-sex pairs." This study also found that females were more likely to receive help and males were much more likely to give help. In a study of persons offered candy on the street corners of New York (they were told it was a free sample) 46% accepted when given by a female, but only 19% accepted when offered by a male.

The effect of the audience responses seems to have a crucial effect on helping behavior. In an innovative study (quoted by Latane and Darley, 1970) two girls, playing with a frisbee in the waiting room at Grand Central Station, "accidentally" threw it to another person, a confederate who either threw it back and joined in, or returned it and condemned the girls for being childish and acting dangerously. When a confederate joined in, 86% of the bystanders participated. When the confederate refused to play and disapproved of the activity (the second condition), no other bystander joined in.

The individual's response, in other words, is heavily dependent upon how the audience's reaction was defined-in this case it was evaluated mostly from the behavior of the third person, the confederate. Someone else joining lends credence to the position that the 11 group" (the audience) feels that the game is appropriate or acceptable, a phenomenon called group think (Janis, 1967). One person with firmly held opinions, though, can shatter group think. in formal situations, such as board meetings, a holdout can cause prolonged committee indecision. Further research on the "frisbee study" has found that by varying the behavior and words of the third person, what the confederate did was less important than what the confederate said. If she simply allowed the frisbee to bounce off her and be retrieved by one of the two others girls in the study, the bystanders participated at a higher rate than when the confederate utilized inhibitory behavior by condemning playing with the frisbee. When the "condemner" left, though, the level of participation increased almost

If one or two take the initiative, the inhibitions Of each individual bystander will be reduced, increasing the likelihood that they will help. Each person in the crowd tends to wait for someone else to take the initiative.

to the rate obtained when the confederate approved of the frisbee behavior. This indicates that condemners inhibit others from joining the activity when present, but far less so when absent. The "audience" evidently did not cause internalization of the condemnation.

The Stages that Lead to a Helping Decision

The proem of helping involves the following two steps:

1. Interpretation of the situation. Is the person acting or is it only a "friendly" fight occurring? The events may seem real, but may be so "shocking" that they are interpreted as unreal. It may seem difficult to misinterpret a rape or homicide, nonetheless, a bystander can rationalize it as "only fighting among spouses," "acting for a movie," even if a knife was obviously plunged into the victim and drew blood (movies do look real). Training can alert one to quickly assess a situation and react appropriately.

2. An evaluation of a decision to help. Conclusions about what is occurring, i.e., the man killing a woman is deranged, imply conclusions as to helping. But if one should help is not always a simple or easy decision. Training could help one assess one's options.

Clark and Word (1974) note that inhibiting effects of groups typically is more apt to occur if the emergency is ambiguous. If a victim is clearly hurt, group inhibition is often less. As they note (1974:280), "bystanders who were exposed to a nonambiguous emergency did not misinterpret the event," and consequently their behavior was less affected by the presence of others.

If one or two take the initiative, the inhibitions of each individual bystander will be reduced, increasing the likelihood that they will help (Gergen and Gergen, 1981). Each person in the crowd tends to wait for someone else to take the initiative. A similar situation is a traffic light which changes to green. The line-up tends to wait until someone takes the initiative and pulls forward. After this occurs, the other cars readily follow.

People are also more likely to help when many victims are involved compared to one or a few. In a disaster more help is typically forthcoming than if one person faints on the street. It is clear to the observer in these situations that something tragic has happened. in disasters it is also likely that someone who is related to a bystander or a friend is hurt, a situation which almost guarantees aid (Clark and Ward, 1966). This helping bystander will likely by his/her behavior encourage others to help.

Latane and Darley (1970) found that pairs of adults acquainted with each other were more likely to help a third person in distress than pairs who were strangers. When in the company of friends, persons are more likely to discuss helping, the first step in giving aid, and therefore are more likely to overcome inhibitions in aiding victims.

Helping in Obvious Emergencies

Even in a clear emergency, hesitancy exists for the following reasons, all of which, as will be shown, can be reduced by training.

1. Because they are unusual and rare events, the observer often finds it difficult to comprehend what has happened and it takes time in order for the tragic reality to become vivid.

Intervening in an emergency situation may not be rewarding-the person may not be able to successfully help and may very well be punished as a result of trying to help. "If I involve myself, he may well try to kill me also. " These conclusions obviously lead to various courses of action ("there's no point in both of us getting hurt"). This implies that training in helping is needed to reduce both this fear and possibility. Failure is, at the least, embarrassing or more likely painful. In trying to save a person from drowning, a would-be rescuer may himself drown. After the emergency situation, the non-helper may be totally baffled by his or her inhibited behavior"Why didn't I help that person? I just stood there, stunned. I can't understand it. " We may freeze because we do not know what to do and because the emergency not uncommonly develops unexpectedly. We have little time to think through possible courses of action. The emergency is upon us and we react as one who is thrown a ball and told to "think quick"-we often do nothing.

Thus, increased experience with disaster phenomena, and the known ability to help with a perceived low risk to oneself (as in the situation of lifeguards trained to, and experienced in, helping drowning swimmers, or a man saving a baby drowning in shallow water) would reduce helping inhibitions.

3. The process of helping also requires a decision as to what form of assistance should be given-an easy question to answer in the case of a child drowning in four feet of water, but more difficult if a man in front of us clutches his chest and slumps on the sidewalk as if he is having a heart attack. In interpreting whether a situation is truly an emergency, a person becomes keenly aware of the reactions of others. If no one else is taking action, observers are inclined to interpret the event as a non-emergency.

4. We generally derive a great deal of information about new situations, even familiar ones, by evaluating the behavior of those around us. Others panicking influences us to panic. Others behaving calmly influences our behavior in that direction. When at a formal dinner party, one is acutely aware of the behavior of others. And until one knows the mores, the situatioq is evaluated carefully before behaving. Of course, someone has to take the initiative, and often it is the person who has "rehearsed the situation" (has experience) and therefore knows how to behave. If the bystanders define the act as a nonemergency by their inactivity, each individual is more likely to condone not responding. This is likely the case in group rapes. The behavior is acceptable because everyone is watching it happen and seemingly condoning it even though the woman may be screaming. The group then causes a redefinition of the situation. "It is not rape and, although putting up a fuss, she is obviously enjoying it" (Starr, 1984). The March 1984 convictions in the "tavern rape" case may affect this belief (see Time, 1984; Starr, 1984; and Press, 1983). A major finding of bystander inactivity research is that, as the number of other people increases, the impulse to help is inhibited. The more bystanders, the greater the diffusion of responsibility for helping, and the less likely each individual person will believe that he or she is responsible to help.

Other factors also impede intervention. Few persons want to make a fool of themselves in front of a crowd. Crying fire when there is no fire, but only an air conditioner backed up, is embarrassing. Most persons have never rehearsed helping in emergency situations, and they certainly do not want to look foolish in front of an audience on the first dry run.

6. The pressure of the situation also affects helping effectiveness. In a study by Berkun (1962) and his colleagues, soldiers assigned to a small shack overlooking a canyon were asked to set up a remote control circuit for the group of men wiring explosives in the canyon below. While working, an explosion was heard and a voice stated that there was an accident and someone was hurt. The voice then asked the listeners to call for help. The phone, as part of the experiment, would not work. It was found that soldiers working under this stressful situation were much more clumsy and inept as one would expect, than those in a similar but iar less stressful situation (the control group whose phone worked).

Latane and Darley (1970) concluded that people sometimes do not help a victim out of concern for him or her. Helping, some feel, may in certain circumstances impinge the victim's ability to cope himself, or possibly may embarrass him, implying an inability to cope. Aid may also put him in the difficult position of receiving help which obligates reciprocation later. It seems, though, that most people would appreciate both the help and concern that motivated it, and that this reason given by non-belpers is of limited validity. Even if the victim of an accident is f ully able to help him or herself I concern from others about his emergency is usually appreciated, especially after the event passes.

Helping in Crime Situations

In an experimental situation in which money was stolen," 52% of the subjects who were by themselves (the alone condition) claimed not to have noticed the theft compared to 25 % in the paired condition in which both persons were naive to the experiment's purpose. Actually, very few of the pairs-3 out of the 32-on their own reported the money stolen compared to 24% in the alone condition (Latane and Darley, 1970). And in the paired condition, 19% reported the theft. When asked later about the incident, the observers gave elaborate, but often implausible, explanations, such as "it looked like he was only making change ... .. I  thought he took the money by accident." It is likely that most actually saw the staged theft but, again, a large percent denied awareness of what was an obvious infraction of the law which occurred in front of them. Of course, not seeing a theft (or claiming not to) is viewed as a valid justification for not doing anything about it. The subjects were likely not socialized to be vigilant relative to the appropriate responses in these situations and thus responded the way they did.  

An even more daring experiment along the same lines was a staged robbery (Latane and Darley, 1969). The robber would (1) enter the store, (2) ask the cashier a question, (3) the cashier would leave for a minute, (4) the person, ostensibly a customer, would pick up a case of beer and remark "They'll never miss it," (5) then walk out of the store without paying for it. On 48 occasions the robber worked alone, and on 48 were paired. Not one person tried to prevent the theft, and only 20% reported it spontaneously, although 51% reported it after encouragement. Little difference existed between the single and the paired robbers. The number of bystanders bad an effect on the reportingagain, the more bystanders, the less likely anyone was to report the incident. As Latane and Darley (1970:77) conclude, "regardless of what is absolutely right, reporting [an] ... emergency meant putting another person in trouble. It meant squealing ... many subjects may have chosen to side with the villain rather than with his victim." Without counter-conditioning (moral education designed to socialize a person to report crime), this may be the "natural" way to respond.

The Validity of the Verbal Reasons for Not Helping

When questioned as to why they did not intervene to prevent an actual homicide, an amazing variety of responses were given-they thought it was fake, a tape recording, a movie was being filmed, that "she enjoyed getting stabbed," or deserved it and, probably the most honest, "I don't know why I didn't do anything, I guess I was just horrified" (Jones and Aronson, 1973). One claimed that he was paralyzed with fear, another "the lady was really getting stabbed in front of me, and I had never seen that. I just didn't know what to do," and "I guess I'm mad at myself that I didn't do something, but I didn't. I just stared, me and everybody else." Yet in most assault cases, it would have been a simple task for four or five persons to subdue what is often a lone attacker. A broom or stick could be used to disarm him and several persons could subdue him. Reasons given for not helping, therefore, are of questionable validity as a full explanation.

Individual Responsibility

The fact is, in spite of the factors previously discussed which clearly do inhibit responding in emergency situations, in the end it is a conscious decision of the person not to act. These inhibitions can be overcome, and it seems they are more likely to be overcome if a person is trained to respond to emergency situations, either via formal training, role playing, and instruction/discussion in the home, school or church (Teger, 1967; Nash, 1983). All of the factors listed above do not negate individual responsibility, but only help us realize steps to overcome in socializing persons into helping behavior and the need for us to assume our part. The larger the audience, the greater the diffusion of personal responsibility ("It is not my fault she was killed,

Thus increased experience with disaster phenomenon, and the known ability to help with a perceived low risk to oneself ... would reduce helping inhibitions.

somebody else could have intervened") can be dealt with by training in individual responsibility, a major part of the Christian ethic (Begley, 1984). If only one bystander is present in an emergency, this person carries all of the responsibilities-if there is help to be given, only he or she can give it if no one else is present. And, if others are around, one can learn not to assume that the other person is already taking some action to solve the crisis such as by calling the police, doctor, or doing something else. Most studies also find that if a person is going to help, he or she will do so within a few minutes after they are aware of the victim's plight, or not at all. Research is needed to fully understand what differentiates those who do help from those who do not, but training is clearly part of the difference (Wallach and Wallach, 1983).

The most common responses as to why the person did not help, that he did not know what to do, is a realistic response which illustrates the need for both training in helping techniques and anticipatory socialization as part of our basic secular and sacred education. In our culture, it is assumed that males are more apt to respond to emergencies (Cunningham, 1984). This was not confirmed by some research. In several studies, if both males and females were present, males were not significantly more likely to respond. This may be partly because most of the experiments involved low cost intervention (simply going somewhere else to ask for help, or report an incident to someone else). A situation requiring direct intervention, such as saving a drowning victim, may not produce these results. Thus, Latane and Darley (1970) concluded that male-female norms, although possibly relevant to some high cost situations, made little difference in the reportorial intervention needed in the experiments they utilized. Others have hypothesized that the maternal instincts, and especially the child care training of a woman, would make her more likely to intervene. Women in the past were trained to fill caretaking roles, and also probably have more experience responding to emergencies than males. The typical mother has dealt with far more family "emergencies" than the father. They respond more often because they have better training and more anticipatory socialization for emergencies, indicating the usefulness of this education.

Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations

The prevailing explanation for the seemingly inhuman callousness of the bystander effect is the "group effect" which suggests that the more potential helpers present, the less likely any one person will step out of the crowd to aid victims (Latane, 1970). The crowd's inactivity implies that the norm is "stand by and watch only," and anyone who helps violates what has become the prevailing group norm. Each member of the crowd will, instead, try to rationalize or "reinterpret" what seems obvious. 

This and most other behaviors identified in this paper which inhibit or reduce the likelihood of bystander aid can be overcome if a person was sufficiently socialized in the importance of "good samaritanism" and the need for the skills to help. Many writers argue that the bystander effect reflects a decline in morality, specifically a decline in the Christian helping ethic. An increase of "selfishism" and egoism is probably partly responsible for the "not helping behavior" (Wallach and Wallach, 1983). To the extent that this is part of the bystander phenomenon, people can learn to overcome these inhibitory factors.

In support of this, Clark and Ward (1974) found that several characteristics of the emergency situation were important determinants of bystander behavior. Subjects who were more confident were not only more likely to help the victim but, if they did so, worked with less risk to themselves. This indicates that training in emergency situations (including role playing and anticipatory socialization, both of which increase confidence) can be very helpful. We would not expect a swimming lifeguard to do nothing to save a person drowning in front of him or her. Presumably, those who are trained to help, and internalize the norm of helping, are far more likely to help in any situation. In a study that indirectly tests this hypothesis, Pomazal and Jaccard (1976) found that the intention to donate blood was highly related to whether or not the person actually later did. Of those who stated they intended to donate, 53 subjects later did and 102 did not. Of those who had no intention of donating, 2 later donated and 99 did helping others compared to those in large cities. The

not. The authors concluded (1976:231) that "a positive father's occupation was also related-middle class
intention is a necessary but not sufficient decision for sons were more likely to help, possibly because of
the performance of [helping] behavior." In the case of raised in a social environment where helping is
helping in emergency situations, a positive intention important and more apt to be directly taught. Studies

may not be a sufficient condition, but to the degree that this study is generalizable such intention will likely
facilitate helping behavior.

Also, Morgan (1983) found that religiousness is positively related to helping others. Church attendance is
likewise positively correlated with helping (Tittle and Welch, 1983). Presumably, most American religious
denominations teach, at least indirectly, the importance of helping others; altruism is a central trait of
Christianity (see Matthew 5:38-48 and Luke 10:29-37).

Neal (1983) notes that one cause of the bystander apathy phenomenon is the fact that the bystander role
in modern society is played far more often than the involvement role. Most persons present at sports events,
involved in watching movies, television, etc., concerts and even in most social events, are bystanders. As a
society we are thus involved primarily in a watching role, standing on the sidelines and observing. Observing
takes less effort, involves less threat, and eliminates the possibility of embarrassment, mistakes, or errors of
judgment. Thus, lack of training and experience in the helping role is widespread and one reason for not

Another variable was whether the subject knew the confederate. If so, he was significantly faster in responding than strangers. Thus, we would expect help to be rendered far more often in a small town, where
people know each other, than in the city. In a situation with friends, the subject knows that he or she is
accountable-how could one explain to friends one's failure to help another friend? Several studies have also
found that meeting the victim briefly had a major effect on both the likelihood and the speed with which
the subjects responded to the crisis. In a crisis situation, one is far more likely to help someone who is known. The person is then a human being, not a nameless, personless stranger in need of help. Religious training clearly can aid personalizing strangers and nurturing the "I am my brother's keeper" syndrome. Scripturally every living human is one's neighbor even one's enemies (Luke 10:29-37) and concern is to be shown to all (Matt. 25:35-46).

It was also found that the size of the community in which the subject grew up was related to helping (the
smaller the community, the more likely the person helped in an emergency). Presumably, in small towns
people are trained to help and have more experience in helping in airports in contrast to subways found twice as many in subways helped, 83% compared In 41% in airports. Although it is difficult to specify why

The most common responses as to why the person did not help, that he did not know what to do, is a realistic response which illustrates the need for both training in helping techniques and anticipatory socialization as part of our basic secular and sacred education.

this difference resulted, some hypothesize that the( major reason was because one is more likely to find middle class people in subways and more upper class people in airports (Schwartz and Clausen, 1970).

In endeavoring to determine the difference between responsive and unresponsive bystanders, a number of studies have correlated the result of various personality scales, such as those measuring authoritarianism and anomie. This research has found that, for the most part, the scores on these personality scales have non-significant relationships with helping. People who scored low on authoritarianism were as likely to help as those who scored high, for example. This also conforms to the position that helping behavior is learned, and the solution to bystander apathy is training and socialization.

Implications for Christianity

In spite of the clear sociological and psychological factors which inhibit helping behavior, it is apparent that the churches' function to train its members in the Christian value of helping others can be highly functional in responding to this concern. With training, role playing, and anticipatory socialization, persons can become aware of the inhibiting factors and, to a large degree, overcome them, as many Biblical examples illustrate (Cunningham, 1984). One is not totally immobilized by the inhibitory effects of an audience, but is still free to act (and a person can most often overcome the normal inhibitions). That these programs can be effective is demonstrated in studies of life-guard training and instruction to help in emergency situations. And this training is imperative, for as Christ taught that those not helping strangers in their time of need, "shall go away into everlasting punishment" (Matt. 25:35-46). The importance of the helping ethic could hardly be put more forcefully.


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