Posted: March 12th, 2023

With the introduction of electronic recording devices, has the bystander effect become more of a problem

The bystander effect is defined as “the likelihood that someone will intervene in a situation decreases when other people are present” (Leyens et al., 2001). This phenomenon has been studied extensively since it was first discovered by John Darley and Bibb Latané in1968. With the development of new technology, it raises the question: Has the bystander effect become more of a problem? In order to answer this question, we must examine how electronic recording devices affect the psychological processes underlying this phenomenon.

As mentioned earlier, one of the main causes of the bystander effect is diffusion of responsibility—the idea that when there are multiple witnesses involved in a given situation, each individual often feels less responsible for taking action than they would if they were alone (Leyens et al., 2001). Electronic recording devices can be seen as amplifying this feeling; after all, with a video camera or smartphone capturing an event from start to finish, it becomes easier for bystanders to feel removed from any consequences that may result from their actions. It also increases their sense of anonymity; given that many electronic recording devices include features such as facial recognition and location tracking software, bystanders may be even less likely to intervene out of fear that their identity could be revealed.

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With the introduction of electronic recording devices, has the bystander effect become more of a problem

Another factor to consider is whether or not electronic recordings have made us more vigilant observers of crime or serious incidents. On one hand, electronic recordings allow us access to detailed accounts about what happened during certain events and increase our awareness about potential dangers in our environment (Szeto & Pang 2009). On the other hand, research suggests that witnessing violent events through recorded media can reduce “empathy toward victims and emotional responses compared with live observation”(Rittberger et al., 2010), resulting in an overall reduction in pro-social behaviour among viewers. Taken together these findings suggest that while viewing videos has enabled us somewhat better gauge potential threats around us ,it also appears to discourage active involvement on behalfof victims who appear distantand anonymous due totheir absence inthese recordings.

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Finally research also indicates that the presence of electronic recording devices or surveillance technologies may also lead to a so-called “surveillance stigma” where individuals feel they are being watched all of the time and experience a diminished sense of trust towards one another(Coulsonetal.,2008).This issue theoretically linked to the bystander effect as the lack of trust amongst individuals in the same group can limit intervention in potential situations despite that fact that they are aware of what is occurring around them It could be suggested that the recording device plays a role in accenTuating this stigma as its presence are directly associated with feelings of being watched vigilantly and also felt as a possible threat to privacy rights if not used appropriately or for legitimate purposes.(Szeto&Pang2009).

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