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Past studies have used police reports to estimate the effect, but results ranged from 11 percent to 74 percent of incidents being interventions. Now, widespread surveillance cameras allow for a new method to assess real-life human interactions. A new study published this year in the American Psychologist finds that this well-established bystander effect may largely be a myth. The study uses footage of more than 200 incidents from surveillance cameras in Amsterdam; Cape Town; and Lancaster, England.
Researchers watched footage and coded the nature of the conflict, the number of direct participants in it, and the number of bystanders. Bystanders were defined as intervening if they attempted a variety of acts, including pacifying gestures, calming touches, blocking contact between parties, consoling victims of aggression, providing practical help to a physical harmed victim, or holding, pushing, or pulling an aggressor away. Each event had an average of 16 bystanders and lasted...
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