Discussion Response



Human nature dictates that a person should immediately take the responsibility to help if the person notices a situation that requires his or her assistance (Fischer et al., 2011). However, this is not always the case, as seen in the scenario where none of the onlookers was willing to help Brenda get up after being pushed by someone and fall in a muddy ravine near the university’s main entrance. The onlookers’ unwillingness to offer assistance to Brenda can be explained from the perspective of diffusion of responsibility, which is one of the key components of the bystander effect theory.

According to Beyer et al. (2017), diffusion responsibility is a psychological phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to respond to a situation or take action when there are many people present. In other words, the personal responsibility that an onlooker feels or develops tends to decrease as the number of onlookers increases. In light of this theory, it can be argued that none of the passerby students and other bystanders at the university’s entrance helped Brenda because the presence of many people meant that individual people did not feel pressured to act and offer assistance that she needed (Tosuntaş, 2020). The individuals thought that it was the responsibility of someone else in the group to offer assistance.

The tendency of onlookers to do nothing in emergencies like that of Brenda does not mean that the people are uncompassionate; it is instead an outcome of the bystander effect. According to the bystander effect theory, the likelihood of a person to provide assistance in an emergence decreases significantly when a group of passive bystanders is present (Darley & Latané, 1968).


Beyer, F., Sidarus, N., Bonicalzi, S., & Haggard, P. (2017). Beyond self-serving bias: diffusion of responsibility reduces sense of agency and outcome monitoring. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 12(1), 138-145. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsw160

Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8(4), 377–383. http://dx.doi.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1037/h0025589

Fischer, P., Krueger, J. I., Greitemeyer, T., Vogrincic, C., Kastenmüller, A., Frey, D., Heene, M., Wicher, M., & Kainbacher, M. (2011). The bystander-effect: a meta-analytic review on bystander intervention in dangerous and non-dangerous emergencies. Psychological bulletin, 137(4), 517–537. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023304

Şule Betül Tosuntaş. (2020). Diffusion of responsibility in group work: Social loafing. Journal of Pedagogical Research, 4(3), 344–358. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.33902/JPR.2020465073

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