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MCAT Psychology – Bystander Effect

  • by Kerry Goldstein
  • Mar 06, 2015
  • MCAT Blog, MCAT Psychology, MCAT Question of the Day

Walking down a street late at night, an adult male pedestrian notices a young female on the ground, not moving. The female is on the opposite side of the street. Crossing the street, the pedestrian notices that the young woman appears both much wealthier than he is and is of a different ethnicity. Seeing no one else present, the pedestrian renders aid. According to the bystander effect, which of the following would change how the pedestrian reacts?

A) The person requiring aid appearing to be of a lower socioeconomic class rather than a higher one
B) The presence of another group of people one block up the street
C) The person requiring aid appearing to be the same ethnicity rather than a different one
D) The presence of one other person who is already approaching the girl

 

Explanation

A) The person requiring aid appearing to be of a lower socioeconomic class rather than a higher one
B) The presence of another group of people one block up the street
C) The person requiring aid appearing to be the same ethnicity rather than a different one
D) The presence of one other person who is already approaching the girl

The bystander effect indicates that people are less likely to take action when there are other people present and it seems as though the other people will take charge of the situation or will take direct action. Here, if another person is already heading towards the girl, the pedestrian may assume someone else is going to render aid, and will just move on, rather than rendering aid himself. Thus (D) is the correct answer.

A, C: The bystander effect concerns itself with the presence of other people.
B: While this choice indicates the presence of other people, their distance from the situation makes it lees likely that the pedestrian will assume that others are helping.

 

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