John M. Darley and Bib Latane Darley and Latane have managed to identify the reasons why people fail to respond in a crisis situation, especially when there is a crowd witnessing the scenario. As a general perception, such a case where an accident takes place with many bystanders around while no-one comes forward for help is seen as a public exhibit of cowardice and inhumanity. However, after an intense study on public behavior, a cause and effect relationship has been identified, which has been discussed by Darley and Latane (1968) in their works. They have carved out some of the steps which generally affect the perception formation and decision making patterns of people during a crisis situation resulting in the inaction of people during such situations. In a nutshell, in order to intervene, a person first has to notice the crisis; on doing so, he will have to interpret the situation as a crisis or an emergency, and lastly, that person will have to take responsibility for the event, and if any of these steps are missing intervention won`t take place.
Darley and Latane conducted various experiments to observe if the first step held any significance and the result was positive. Many bystanders are usually busy in their own personal lives, or in some cases especially in societies like America, noticing other`s business is often interpreted as an offensive act; also, some people fear that they will be perceived as fools if they notice a crisis, thus they cease to do so (Westen 743). The second step involves interpreting the situation as an emergency; however, some people assume that the event taking place may not be something as serious and if they intervene, they will rather be intervening in someone else`s space. Resultantly, they refrain from accepting that there is even an emergency at the first place. The third step, however, involves the concept of shared responsibilities. This implies that no one takes the responsibility and perceives others to take a stand, however they themselves don`t step forward to help in crises as they assume that someone else should do so especially if there is a mob witnessing the event.
These effects mentioned above consequently result in the inaction of people in helping others during a crisis. Thus, in other words, for an intervention to take place during an emergency situation, it is crucial for these three causes to exist: firstly, the bystanders should notice the crises taking place, secondly they should perceive the existing situation as an emergency, and thirdly, they should take responsibility for helping those in need. Thus, this explanation can be used to explain why people in rural areas and with simpler lifestyles are more willing to help others, as they don`t have cultural and societal barriers and take responsibilities for other`s matters (Bunge 33). However, this trend lacks in urban city lives, as people are so busy with their own set of issues and lives that they tend to isolate themselves from others, and thus consequently people tend to refrain from helping others during a crisis.
Bunge, Mario. Philosophy in Crisis: The Need for Reconstruction. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 2001. Print
Burton, Lorelle, Drew Westen, and Robin Kowalski. Psychology. Australia: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. Print.
Darley, John M., and Bibb Latane. “When Will People Help in a Crisis?” Psychology Today. N.p., 1968. Print.