Sunday, August 14, 2005

On the phenomenon of the Kitty Genovese case

This Virginia Gazette article asksShould witnesses step in to halt crime?

The article describes the many witnesses to a recent sex crime - the witnesses called police, but did not intervene, and goes on to discuss just why that happens, citing a William & Mary professor, on the social research that has been done since the Kitty Genovese case, a murder witnessed by 38 people.

The professor cited two findings: "diffusion of responsibility" - the idea that with more witnesses, people feel less personally responsible to act, and "social influence of interpretation of the situation" - that people don't want to embarrass themselves by making a mistake over whether something needs to be done or what to do.

No comments: