Kitty Genovese

The bystander effect was first demonstrated in the laboratory by John Darley and Bibb Latané in 1968 after they became interested in the topic following the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964.[1] These researchers launched a series of experiments that resulted in one of the strongest and most replicable effects in social psychology.[citation needed] In a typical experiment, the participant is either alone or among a group of other participants or confederates. An emergency situation is staged and researchers measure how long it takes the participants to intervene, if they intervene. These experiments have found that the presence of others inhibits helping, often by a large margin.[2] For example, Bibb Latané and Judith Rodin (1969) staged an experiment around a woman in distress. 70 percent of the people alone called out or went to help the woman after they believed she had fallen and was hurt, but when there were other people in the room only 40 percent offered help

Kitty Genovese[edit]
Main article: Murder of Kitty Genovese
The case of Kitty Genovese is often cited and occasionally criticized as an example of the "bystander effect". It is also the case that originally stimulated social psychological research in this area. On March 13, 1964 Genovese, 28 years old, was on her way back to her Queens, New York apartment from work at 3am when she was stabbed to death by a serial rapist and murderer. According to newspaper accounts, the attack lasted for at least a half an hour during which time Genovese screamed and pleaded for help. The murderer attacked Genovese and stabbed her, then fled the scene after attracting the attention of a neighbour. The killer then returned ten minutes later and finished the assault. Newspaper reports after Genovese's death claimed that 38 witnesses watched the stabbings and failed to intervene or even contact the police until after the attacker fled and Genovese had died. This led to widespread public attention, and many editorials....