Journal 9

In 2011, a traffic accident triggered towering wave in China. A 2-year kid called Yue was rolled over by two cars in 7 minutes. In the 7 minutes, 18 people walked by and saw what happened but they all turned a blind eye to it. The kid finally died, and introspection of indifference of Chinese was discussed for quite a long time on the Internet.  Most people blamed that those eyewitness were devoid of conscience and lost their moral bottom line. Some of the people even said that the witness should also be convicted of murder, like the car driver. I remember at that time, I was also shocked by this event, and in the same time I questioned myself, if I were one of the witness, would I called the police at once or just walked away?

This event was astonishingly similar to the murder of Kitty Genovese, which numerous neighbors witnessed the process of the murder but no one stood out and helped her.

Exclude the possibility that some of the witness didn’t see clearly what happened at that time therefore didn’t give any help, I think we can see this event as a conform behavior from social psychological perspective. Conformity involves acting like the majority of a group or changing behavior to fit in the specific group. Imagine you are the one of the witnesses who was at the scene. When you saw what happened and then observed around and found that no one even cared about it, you might also think that “maybe she didn’t hurt that much” or “oh, if I went to helped her or called the police, will I be seen as awkward?” Since no one else took any actions, you didn’t want to be such a weird person who did something differently. It is also known as the bystander effect, which means people are less likely to take actions if there are more witnesses around. In the study conducted by John Darley and Bibb Latane, they found that if leaving participant alone in one room, it was more likely for them to take action than if staying with two other participants.

As a result, we can assume that in the same situation, if only one person walked by and found the little girl was lying on the ground, that person might called the police at once or helped her directly. The question I now raise is how we should prevent such tragedy from happening again, since under most conditions, it is hard to just have only one person besides. However, I think next time when seeing the same thing happened, as people who know about bystander effect, we should not push our responsibility to others, therefore we’d better call the police or emergency at once and asked others to help immediately.


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