Social Influence

Help by Enrico Corno

I just read something that I feel is important to share.

You know how it seems society is becoming so apathetic? I don’t know if you remember the story of passers by not helping a child knocked down in a traffic accident in China.

I was reading a book that talks about this type of event.

Imagine you see a man lying down on the street.

Then imagine some people walking along that street.

The first or second person to meet this man may be uncertain what to do. Is he a drunk or homeless person? Is he pretending and waiting to mug me? Should I disturb him? What if he’s hostile?

Maybe they think they are not qualified to help. They are not strong/medically trained/can’t speak the language. They turn back and see other people coming (who may be more qualified).

So they pass him by.

The next few people see the first two people pass by, so they assume everything is ok. Then they pass by too.

Soon everyone is passing by and when a curious person goes to check, it is too late.

This happens because as people we are subconsciously being influenced by the behaviour of others (social influence).

This doesn’t mean we are lesser or defective in any way. It’s just the way our minds seem to be wired to work.

You should also read about the bystander effect, where bystanders do not react because they are just unsure if they should. Or maybe they wait for the others to do something.

So what do you do if you are ever caught in a situation like this?

Don’t just scream “help”, or worse just wait for others to come.

Chances are nobody will help.

What you should do is  to focus on one person. Maintain eye contact with that person, point to them and tell them what to do.

“Call an ambulance”, “Get the medication in my bag” or whatever.

When you place this responsibility on one person, chances are that person will respond to assist you.

When others see this, they may also join in.

If you are a woman and a stranger tries to grab you, don’t just scream “Let me go”. Others may be thinking you’re a couple having an argument, and leave you alone. Instead say “Let me go, I don’t know you”.

Photo By: Enrico Corno

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