The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between
Psychology Post ~ Bystander Effect

Psychology Post ~ Bystander Effect

Often times, we are confronted with right and wrong decisions.  Decisions that we know we should make, but won’t.  The biggest reason why personal training can be so effective, is because you are accountable to someone other than yourself.  The reason why people will often work harder in a group setting is because they are lifted up by those in the class.

Sometimes we just need an impetus to take the actions we know we need to take and those around us help us take the actions we truly want to take.

Be Influenced to Do Good

The following video reminded me of these moments.  In the video, about 30 dolphins wash ashore.  The first people to see the dolphins wash ashore, simply stand there, hesitant about what to do.  Then, three guys show up and start pulling the dolphins by their tails, trying to get them back in.  Shortly after those three guys start, about a dozen people start to help the dolphins back in.

Bystander Effect and not Doing What’s “Right”

The first people to act in this situation, made all the difference.  In psychology, there’s something called a “Bystander Effect” in which people will stand around and do nothing, if they see other people standing around doing nothing.  This was most evident in a 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese where there were at least 30 people watching a woman, who was screaming for help, get killed as they all looked on.

Psychologists then went back and tried to figure out why this happened.  How could so many people stand around and do nothing?  The answer was simply this, since NO ONE took action, it encouraged everyone else to sit back and do nothing.

Psychologist’s have studied this time and time again with the same results.  They’ll have one person (the person in the experiment) sit in a room, filled with other people.  They will then show all the people (who are simply accomplices in the experiment) a picture of something obvious.  An example would be showing a picture of three quarters and asking how much is shown in the picture.  All the accomplices will answer 55 cents, saying it’s actually 2 quarters and a nickel.  By the time it comes to the person in the experiment, that person, knowing full well it’s 3 quarters will have built up so much doubt in what they know, they will answer 55 cents up to 60-80% of the time.  That means, 6 to 8 out of 10 people will knowingly give a false answer because everyone else in the group gave a false answer.

An article about a man drowning in 3 feet of water as 25 rescue workers look on reminds me of this Bystander effect in a negative way – “Man’s body floats in three feet of water, 25 emergency workers stand and watch.

The One that ‘Stands Out’

Here’s a Video of The Bystander Effect in Action


Notice how dramatically the odds change in favor of more people doing the right thing, of helping out, is simply one person acting differently than the rest of the group.  All it takes is one person to sway the decisions of everyone else around.  If those three guys hadn’t acted with the dolphins, more than likely, no one would have.  If just one rescue worker would’ve went in and helped the drowning man, more than likely lots of others would have done the same.  All it takes is one person. All it took was one person to ask the woman if she needed help before other people came over and did the same.

That means you have a choice – you can either be that one person or allow yourself to be influenced by those already taking the actions you want to take.

The question then becomes, who are you allowing yourself to be influenced by?  Are you being influenced by those who are doing the things you want to be doing or you simply allowing yourself to sit back and lead a life not of your making?
Make a choice to do what’s right, today!

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