The Bystander Calculus Model

The following sample essay on The Bystander Calculus Model. The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Bystander Calculus Model. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed. Imagine a world where people give of themselves simply because they want to. Not out of a sense of debt. Or because they want something in return. No ulterior motives. No guilt feelings. Just a desire to give for the sake of giving.

Imagine a world where people helping their fellow human beings in distress, and going out of the way to help those in need without expectation of personal gain.

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Well if you’re living in a big and mean city such as Sydney, New York or to that matter in any cities of this present world, it would be really really difficult for you to imagine this kind of world, on the other hand if you were from a rural background or from any of the collectivist cultures, where people have a sense of belongingness toward their society and feel that its their duty to help others without any self gain and due to various other factors discussed in the following essay about why its easier to bear witness to altruistic behaviour in rural places than in cities, imagining this kind of world would not that be that hard, if you were actually from a rural background.

Defining altruism: A special form of helping behaviour, sometimes costly, that shows concern for fellow human beings and is performed without expectations of personal gain. Altruism is a subcategory of helping behaviour, and refers to an act that is motivated by the desire to benefit another rather than oneself.

The term altruism comes from an Italian word “altrui” it was coined by a French philosopher Auguste Comte that meant “self-sacrifice for the benefit for others” Researchers usually refer to acts that benefit another person as prosocial behaviour, helping behaviour or altruistic behaviour, all though people use these three terms as synonyms these three terms are quite different and distinct. Prosocial behaviour refers to acts that are positively valued by society, Helping behaviour can be defined as an intentional act that benefits another living being or group whereas Altruism refers to an act that is motivated by the desire to benefit another rather than oneself. If you are living in a big city, chances are that you may rarely or never bear witness to or be part of these acts.

If you were looking at any city of the world the typical characteristics you would note in a city would be huge population, fast and stressful life, high cost of living, long distances to travel, pollution and the most important factor is loss of sense of belongingness, most of the people living in a city would be originally from rural background and in search of better job avenues would have shifted to city few decades back and these people who constitute the majority of the city population don’t have this feeling of belongingness, they don’t really feel that they are a part of the society and hence whenever a situation arises where others require their assistance they usually turn there back and behave as if nothing happened. Its only during the 1950s social psychologist started doing research into helping behaviour and in the past few decades they have learned a great deal about prosocial and antisocial behaviour.

Altruism and prosocial behaviour generated great interest among psychologists and general public and some of the following events provided major impetus to this research, these incidents which shook the major cities of the world such as Kitty Genovese Murder, where a young woman named Catherine Genovese also came to be known as Kitty Genovese who lived in Kew Gardens in the boroughs of Queens in NYC, was sexually molested and murdered in the most gruesome manner by a maniac right outside her apartment, the most disturbing fact was that it in spite of Kitty putting up a struggle for almost half-hour nobody came to her rescue, it took the maniac three attempts to kill her, during the first attempt the murder all most took to heals after Kitty raised an alarm, but the maniac noticed that nobody came to her rescue, this encouraged the maniac to attempt again and again and finally succeeded in sexually molesting and killing her, in that horrible half hour none of the neighbours of Kitty Genovese came to her rescue, several people in her building heard her screams, tenants only peeped at what was happening from the safety of their apartments, the maniac had selected the victim purely at random.

The whole event had lasted for around 32 minutes and after about 40 minutes a neighbour of Catherine, named Karl Ross, who lived on the same floor as Catherine called the police only after consulting one of his friends from Nassau County, the cops arrived in two minutes but it was too late, the quickly found Catherine’s body in the hallway on the first floor. She had been stabbed 17 times. The next day when the police interviewed the area’s residents, 38 people openly admitted to hearing the screaming, the had all the time to do something but failed to act, If any one of the 38 witnesses had simply called the police at the first sign of trouble, the victim could have survived, this particular tragic and horrific event received national media attention in America, all asking why none of the neighbours had helped? To which one of the neighbour answered, “These things happen every day all over the world,”. Similar incidents occur regularly in metropolitan cities, recently a video cameraman captured scenes of apathy among fellow travelers after a train ranover Mahendra Sonawane’s left leg when he slipped from an overcrowded train on to the tracks.

The 27-year-old lay there for 15 minutes before police arrived to lift him up and take him to hospital. “I kept shouting out to people standing on the platform. I pleaded with them to lift me up and put me on the platform but no one listened,” Mr Sonawane told BBC News Online. “They all kept staring but didn’t come to my help. ” (bbcnews. com, accessed on 8/04) In an another dreadful incident young Jayabala Ashar a college student in a metropolitan city, took a train to go to her college and was travelling in a women’s compartment, a drug addict who boarded the train the moment it pulled out of the station, accosted her. When Jayabala courageously refused to give in to the ruffian’s demand to hand over her bag, he threw Jayabala off the train.

She fell on the tracks and the train ran over her lower limbs, changing her life forever. What struck Jayabala the most, as she revealed later, was the indifference of the three women who were in the compartment when she was thrown off the train. Not only did these women not come to her rescue when she was trying to ward off the drug addict, they did not even raise an alarm when she was thrown off the train. As a result, an injured Jayabala was lying on the tracks for about an hour and people were just throwing buckets of water at her from houses nearby the railways tracks and during that dreadful hour and only later few women living in buildings near the tracks came to her rescue.

Beginning in April of 1964, New York newspapers printed a series of stories highlighting the apathy and callousness of citizens of New York City. One story, which appeared on June 8 in The Daily News, told of a distraught man who was perched on a 10-story ledge of a Broadway office building. As police tried to talk the man down, a large crowd gathered in the street and chanted, “Jump! Jump! ” When the man was finally pulled off the ledge, the crowd loudly booed the cops (crime libraries, accessed 08/04) But were people in big cities more apathetic, colder and indifferent than others in more rural environments? Or was the “Kitty Genovese Syndrome,” as some psychologists characterized it, indicative of society as a whole?

The answer to this question can be given in the following way as cities keep growing everyday in both area and population enormously there are very few models, in sense individuals who exhibit Altruistic behavior and from whom others can learn to act pro-socially as stated in Vaughan and Hogg(2002) that Modeling is a tendency for a person to reproduce the actions, attitudes and emotional responses exhibited by a real life or symbolic model and due to stress full and a hectic life in a city there are very few models available, apart from this Vaughan and Hogg(2002) explains us about the social learning theory in which it is stated that human social behavior is not innate but learned from appropriate models, this makes it clear that unless the large cities produces models who exhibit pro-social behavior in large numbers situations like Kitty Genovese murder will keep occurring at regular intervals due to absence of appropriate models in large cities.

The cities also exhibit the phenomenon called Bystander Effect. This theory speculates that as the “number of bystanders increases, the likelihood of any one bystander helping another decreases. ” As a result, additional time will pass before anyone seeks outside help for a person in distress. Social psychology research supports the notion that Catherine Genovese had a better chance of survival if she had been attacked in the presence of just one witness. Due to huge population in big cities there is better chance of Bystanders Effect taking place there than anywhere else. Another hypothesis is something called the Diffusion of Responsibility.

This is simply a decrease in the feeling of personal responsibility one feels when in the presence of many other people. The greater the number of bystanders, the less responsibility the individual feels. In cases where there are many people present during an emergency, it becomes much more likely that any one individual will simply do nothing. This is a hypothesized cause of the bystander effect. Also in big growing cities people tend to be less pro-social due to the fear of social blunders as given in Vaughan and Hogg(2002) that people dread of acting inappropriately or of making a foolish mistake witnessed by others. The desire to avoid ridicule inhibits effective responses to an emergency by members of a group.

Would a situation like the Kitty Genovese murder occur in more collectivist cultures such as Singapore or Hong Kong? In collectivist cultures such as Singapore, Hong Kong, India and others, cases such as the Kitty Genovese murder almost never or rarely occur, this is due to the presence of strong cultural norms and due the ideas imbibed into its people that individuals’ fate depends on the group, group is responsible for its members, dependency is supported and due to the presence of strong cultural and social norms, Vaughan and Hogg define norms as attitudinal and behavioral uniformities that define group membership and differentiate between group.

These cultural norms set clear cut guidelines about what behavior is expected or normal and what behavior is abnormal and almost all collectivist cultures have a norm that states that concerns for others is good and that selfishness is bad. The collectivist cultures go against the Bystander calculus model where people of that collectivist cultures never calculate the perceived costs and benefits of providing help compared with those that accrue for not helping. In a collectivist culture personal costs of not helping is usually very high, and the individuals who tend to just be viewers and don’t help the victims in distress can be subjected to criticism and experience extreme blame. Hence due to all the above reasons there is a major rural/urban difference in altruistic behaviours and attitudes.

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The Bystander Calculus Model. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

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