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Forensic psychology
Forensic psychology

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3.3 Why did no one intervene?

Neither Lila or Seth attempt to intervene in the crime, which is hardly surprising given it was an armed robbery!

However, as well as the armed robbery we also staged a crime in a pub, featuring an unarmed fight between two men, which was seen by at least a dozen people. The scene was filmed, and many people who watched the film expressed surprise that not only did none of the witnesses attempt to intervene, not one called for help or even used their phone to call the police.

Not wanting to become involved in a crime or other serious situation is referred to by psychologists as ‘bystander apathy’, and is a phenomenon that has been well researched. In the film above you see Dr Jovan Byford (a psychologist from The Open University) talk about some of this research and about a famous case in which Catherine ‘Kitty’ Genovese was attacked and murdered in a street in Queens, New York. Although the facts were later disputed, the report of the murder at the time claimed that 38 of her neighbours witnessed the attack, but did not intervene.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_psychology_vid_1004_why_did_no_one_intervene_output.mp4
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