Taking responsibility Noticing a victim and recognizing an emergency are crucial steps, but by themselves, they don’t ensure that a bystander will come to the rescue. The issue of responsibility remains. When help is needed, who is responsible for providing it? If a person knows that others are around, it’s all too easy to fail to help because of the diffusion of responsibility: the belief that others will or should intervene. Presumably, each of those people who watched or lis- tened to Kitty Genovese’s murder thought that someone else would do something to stop the attack. The witnesses to the hit-and-run in China or to the assault outside a strip mall in Oceanside, New York (described at the beginning of the chapter), also knew that lots of other people could be the ones to get involved. But remember those helpful participants in the seizure study who thought that they alone heard the other person’s cry for help? Diffusion of responsibility cannot occur if an individual believes that only he or she is aware of the victim’s need.
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