Emergencies | Psychology

The Bystander Effect: Psychology of Inaction in Emergencies

Seeing vs. Acting in Real Time

Som Dutt ☯
Psychology Simplified
3 min readMay 19, 2024


The Bystander Effect: Psychology of Inaction in Emergencies-by “Som Dutt” on Medium https://medium.com/@somdutt777
Source: Source: victor kuznecov/Adobe Stock

During accidents or emergencies, you must have noticed that lots of people make a circle around the victim and they just talk and talk.

The man collapsed, his car overturned, he was bleeding, and his breath was coming in short intervals and that was a clear case of emergency. Time is passing very quickly. If the victim does not get help on time, he can pass away but nobody is moving to help him.

Everybody is busy talking about his condition and how they can help him. But nobody is making the first move. Even you are standing there and observing everything.

You also think that if you help him, you must take leave from the office. You may have to give some information about the accident to the police.

This tense situation is called the Bystander effect. This situation of inaction where the crowd prefers to only observe things from a distance is very dangerous for the patient.

The Group Effect

In groups, people have some kind of fear of misjudgments. In case of emergency, our mind starts thinking so much. It can give you 20 different thoughts and ideas to save that person in a fraction of a minute. You will get completely involved in overthinking.

Your mind distracts you from taking responsibility and doing some real action to help the person. In a group, the individuals forget about their individuality and they prefer to do what others are doing.

People even get scared and hopeless to call the police. With time their inaction gets exaggerated. People make a circle around the patient and try to figure out who is capable of helping that person. Their first preference is to find someone from the medical profession.

People have a prejudice that only people from medical professions are the best match to help the victim. Some people also step back because it is a matter of someone’s life and death and they do not want to take any risk of someone else life on their shoulders.

In most of the cases, witnesses fail to help the victim. The government should spread more awareness to the public regarding the training of first aid and emergency procedures.

We can take the patient to the hospital on time if we are aware of our roles and sure about the help from the government and police.

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Som Dutt ☯
Psychology Simplified

Top writer in Philosophy & Psychology Since 2021. I make people Think, Relate, Feel & Move. For My Detailed Long Essays visit — https://embraceinnerchaos.com