The main idea of the article Bystander Attitudes toward Victims of Violence: Who’s Worth Helping? by Laner, Benin and Ventrone is based on the reflections how the decision to help someone who is abused is dependent on whether, how or whom is abused.
The article provides an analysis of the of bystander behavior in the context of scientific researches, describing the concrete exampled and suggesting their conception of why people chose the exact way of behavior. The authors compare the reflections about the different motives of behavior with the problem of bystanders’ reaction to a violent attack, analyzing the theoretical background and providing the analysis of experimental results.
Considering the question, what the major motive of bystanders’ reaction to a violent attack is, Laner, Benin and Ventrone start their analysis, providing the review of the theoretical background. Thus, Latane and Darley’s decision making model which is based on the reinforcement theory indicates that bystanders want to reduce the suffering of victim due to the deep emotional emphasis as if this violence would happen with the bystander (Laner, Benin and Ventrone 281).
Such behavior is absolutely natural and understandable. In case if the bystander does not help, one will have the guilt feelings as the result of one’s comprehension of the fail to act. Analyzing this theory, Laner, Benin and Ventrone indicate that “Latane and Darley’s studies raised strong doubts about the utility of either social norms or personal characteristics as being important in predicting bystander intervention in emergencies” (281).
Concluding the analysis of theoretical background, the authors say that the gender aspect does not have the significant impact on bystanders’ behavior. However, “active, doing, spontaneous, and anonymous acts are more likely to be carried out by men than by women” (282); on the other hand, women are more helpful due to their emotional emphasis.
The methods used in the different situation described by Laner, Benin and Ventrone demonstrate that following aspects influence the bystanders’ behavior: physical characteristics of perpetrator, victim and bystander (sex, age, height, weight), the experience of the witness (if respondents had witnessed or been a victim of crime) and the level of crime.
The authors analyzed the bystanders’ reaction within the situation with three targets of victims such as 6-year old child, a woman or 40-pound dog. Regarding to the situation, the man (abuser) was the father, husband or dog owner.
This knowledge provides an opportunity to investigate the impact that the relationship between the abuser and victim would have on intention to intervene. The results demonstrated that the bystanders will more likely help to child, then woman, and then dog; the sex of bystander does not have a serious impact; besides, the bystanders with personal negative experience will more likely help (Laner, Benin and Ventrone 284).
Motives of bystanders’ reaction cause the different ways of behavior in the concrete situation. As it was mention below, several aspects influence the bystanders’ behavior such as physical characteristics of perpetrator, victim and bystander, the previous personal experience of the witness and the level of crime.
Although the social norms of behavior imply to help the victim, each situation can cause the different responses and reaction. It is obvious that bystanders provide an exact reaction, according to their capability to manage the particular problem. This issue has more psychological than sociological background, because most of the reactions are caused by the psychological responses of the bystanders.
Laner, Mary L., Benin, M. H., and Nicole A. Ventrone. “Bystander Attitudes toward Victims of Violence: Who’s Worth Helping?” Social Psychology, 13th ed. Eds. Robert A. Baron and Donn Byrne. Boston: Person, 2012. 280-289. Print.