Mar 16

What Kind of Bystander are You?

We go through our daily lives on autopilot most of the time.  Our alarms are cut off without a thought, driving to work we probably couldn’t remember what kind of car was in front of us or even if we were stopped at a stoplight, our meetings at work or phone calls we take are only memorable out of necessity.  We are stimulated from the time we wake up until the time we lay down at night and then even at night our brains work hard to shut off.  But why are we so stimulated?  Is it the amount of responsibility we take on as an individual? Or is it our environment?  Are those of us that live in big cities more likely to become victims of stimulus overload to the point that we become almost desensitized? Once we become desensitized, we begin to miss things that normally we would give a second thought or look to.

One example of stimulus overload to the point of desensitization is a phenomenon known as the bystander effect.  According to Schneider (2013), bystander effect occurs when multiple people who witness an emergency situation fail to intervene.  From a social psychological perspective, this occurs when people that witness an event do not react because they believe that others will intervene on their behalf.  It works kind of like the cliché attitude of “not my problem”.  Studies have shown that people are more likely to intervene in a situation when they are the only bystander as opposed to being one of many bystanders.  When this occurs it is known as diffusion of responsibility (Schneider et al., 2013).

In an effort to understand the bystander effect better, a reporter for the online magazine Salon, Will Doig interviewed several psychologists.

“For more than 50 years, ‘urban psychologists’ have been faking seizures, dropping cash and breaking into cars in broad daylight to see if strangers would intervene,” ……“They’ve discovered two things. One is that people in rural areas do indeed get involved more readily than urbanites. But they’ve also concluded that this has very little to do with morality.”

After reviewing one experiment where the researcher attempted to steal their own bike, the psychologists concluded that there wasn’t a lot of intervention because people didn’t notice what was going on.  This is interesting.  Are we really so busy that we do not or cannot notice what is going on around us?  Some also concluded that they didn’t intervene because they didn’t know what to do.  And, finally some concluded that fear was a factor.

Several things are mentioned – fear, uncertainty and overlooking surroundings. All sound like pretty solid reasons why one would not intervene.  The question now is how do you get someone to intervene when you are not the bystander? One theory is to call out for help, be specific and identify the passerby in detail such as “You in the striped shirt! Help me, there is a fire!” or something similar.

We are never too busy to help someone in need.  Being more aware of your surroundings makes you more vigilant when you’re out alone, helping someone in need establishes a sense of community, and it can make you feel overall better about yourself knowing you helped someone in need.

Counter the bystander effect.


Big cities, bike theft and the ‘bystander effect’ (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2016, from https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2012/03/big-cities-bike-theft-and-bystander-effect


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: Sage.

Mar 16

Gender Stigmatization in the Stem Community

Schneider (2012) describes a community as membership, influence, integration & fulfillment of needs and a shared emotional connection. These components need not be restricted by geographical boarders, but can be applied to communities such as the community that will be discussed in this posting: The Stem Community. Stem stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and makes up a wide sector of schools and jobs in the United States. The Stem community is facing serious prejudice and stigmatization in regards to male and female members of the community. Women are not as encouraged to be members of the Stem community due to being stigmatized as being different from the Stem community’s master status of having male-like qualities.

Respect for social diversity is a prime element of studying and participating in social psychology (Schneider, 2012). Part of the social psychology field is dedicated to understanding the stigmatization that occurs throughout communities in order to ignite social change. Social change in necessary in the Stem community in order to increase diversity in this field and “avoid adopting a standard of normal” (Schneider, 2012). Stigmatization means to label a group of persons as being flawed or different from the master status. In the Stem community this is very prevalent and was recently studied by L. Carli (2016) and posted in Psychology of Women Quarterly. The studies analyzed male and female perceptions of those working in the Stem field: “…despite significant progress made, women are still thought to lack the qualities needed to be successful scientists, and the findings suggest this may contribute to discrimination and prejudice against women in those fields” (Carli, 2016).

This is a serious problem in the Stem community because males are given the master status over females. This stigmatization often leads females to be discouraged or uninspired to enter science and mathematical fields. In fact, despite making up 47% of the total work force, women only make up “low shares in engineering (13%) and computer and mathematical sciences (25%)” (NGCP.Org). Carli’s (2016) research further demonstrated that male and female participants held views that deemed males as holding the master status in Stem fields; whereas, females were stigmatized for being flawed or not possessing the necessary qualities to be regarded as important members of the Stem community: “These data suggest that the challenges women face as potential scientists may go beyond the perception that science is a poor match with women’s communal goals or that more scientists are men [and] not women” (Carli, 2016). Hopefully, knowledge of this issue in the Stem community will prompt social change and increase diversity in the Stem fields.



Carli, L. (2016, March 28). New study finds we still perceive women to be incompatible with STEM. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://phys.org/news/2016-03-women-incompatible-stem.html#jCp


National Girls Collaborative Project. (2012). Statistics. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from https://ngcproject.org/statistics


Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied social psychology:Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks,California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Mar 16

The Bystander Effect’s Big Effect

A lot of the time, many people are not even aware that they are a part of a community. On the whole, they may not even be a part of one; we have evolved into such large populations, that people no longer want to interact with others. As a matter of fact, we go to great lengths to try to avoid it. Whether we are constantly on our cell phones or if we choose to shop online over going into a store, there is very little connection between people. This can be positive, as people have become more independent. However, there can also be negative consequences to such progress. For example, the bystander effect is something that has been studied many times; the idea that there is “safety in numbers” is certainly not always true when there is some sort of an emergency. In other words, people are less likely to take action when in a larger group (Scheider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). While this effect has actually gotten people killed in the past, there are ways to help change the way we behave by means of education on the subject through interventions.

On an evening in 1964, Kitty Genovese was walking back to her apartment. Three dozen people watched as a man followed her and stabbed her several times. These people were not criminals themselves, but still merely watched from their windows with the lights on. The killing took place over a period of a half hour, and only one person called the police when the woman was already deceased and the killer had fled (Gansberg, 1964). Imagine, a woman being brutally murdered outside of your home. You see others watching nervously from their windows. Would you help her?

We all like to think that we are good people, and we assume that if we are witnessing a violent murder that we will step in and call the authorities. However, when the aforementioned bystanders were questioned as eyewitnesses in this murder, each said that they just assumed someone else had called the police. Had the population been smaller, or had there been only one eyewitness, the police may have been called sooner and the woman could have been saved. Instead of having a sense of community and actively working together, we have instead resolved to pass responsibility off on strangers. It is almost as if we have become so used to numbing ourselves to avoid stimulus overload, that it is our default setting in any given situation (Schneider et al., 2012). This reality does not need to be accepted, and it can be helped through active participation of communities in interventions.

Of course, most of the literature suggests that people are less likely to help in the presence of other bystanders because of diffusion of responsibility; however, other research suggests that witnesses to any kind of victimization are less likely to help simply because they don’t know how or they are afraid of worsening the situation. In a survey study about specific bystander behavior in a variety of situations involving family and friends, it was found that when onlookers intervened and helped, there were more positive outcomes for the victims (Hamby, Weber, Grych, & Banyard, 2015). In order to encourage more bystanders to engage in helping behavior, the authors suggest teaching people proper ways to intervene in specific situations. For example, in the case of Kitty Genovese’s murder, onlookers may have been more likely to intervene if they had felt safe or confident in knowing how to help; this is not to say that someone could have simply called the police, but actually tried to physically help her (if one of them had a legally purchased gun, for instance). Within communities, programs could be organized to help teach people how to help others who are being victimized, much like what cops learn in the Police Academy. Community members could participate in mock situations, and practice intervening properly—despite how big of a crowd they are in. This could help lead to more positive outcomes.

In the modern world, it always seems easier to not get involved in anyone’s business. It is easiest to just worry about ourselves and our own lives, without giving anyone else much of a thought. While it is not our responsibility to help others, it is hard to imagine not wanting to if any of us were to see someone in trouble. The previous survey study was done on situations with family and friends, suggesting that people will be more willing to help someone if they feel a connection to them; this goes back to the importance of having a sense of community and knowing your neighbors. Regardless, never assume that someone else is going to do something. If you do not feel comfortable intervening yourself, at least find someone who is. Based on the aforementioned terms and literature, and the suggested program to increase helping, people and communities can once again start looking out for each other’s well being.


Gansberg, M. (1964, March 27). 37 who saw murder didn’t call the police. The New York Times.

Hamby, S., Weber, M.C., Grych, J., & Banyard, V. (2015). What difference do bystanders make? The association of bystander involvement with victim outcomes in a community sample. American Psychological Association. 6. 91-102.

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied social psychology:
Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks,California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Mar 16

Advantages and Influences of Social Media

The person you are online may play an influential role in your life. Your facebook, Instagram, or twitter may seem inconspicuous but chances are you are on these profiles almost any time you pick up your phone. The influences of these communities and the personality we portray may actually be advantageous to how we feel about ourselves.

In a study, participants were told to look at their own profile and then received constructive criticism on a speech they had to give. The participants who looked at their own profile “felt more positive emotions and accepted the feedback (Toma, C.L. 2010).” What this tells us is that looking at their own profile helped remind the participants of the value of their life, the friends they have, and importance of their life. This helped them take the criticism better and feel more positive about the critique than those who looked at other people’s profiles.

This study also shows how important and influential social media can be to our daily lives. Those who show us a ‘fake’ life online may make us feel inadequate and question why our lives aren’t as interesting. The reality is that online profiles are only a small clip of daily life. The people in those profiles are selectively sharing their triumphs, while covering up their failures. Little things like this, while viewing other people’s profiles, may make us feel worse in the long run. Considering almost everyone has a social media account, what is the proper way to avoid feeling this way? What is too much to share online, and does everyone have a ‘fake’ life on the internet? These are questions to consider when thinking about the influences of online communities.




Toma, C. L. (2010). Affirming the self through online profiles.Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’10.


Mar 16

Kitty Genovese and the Bystander Effect


Many individuals may know about the controversial case of the murder of Kitty Genovese that prompted inquiries of the bystander effect. The bystander effect occurs when multiple people who witness an emergency situation fail to intervene. It is believed that the bystander effect occurs, because of diffusion of responsibility. Observers do not help, because they believe that the other observers will help. Now, lets get into details about the case of Kitty Genovese and how the bystander effect played a major role in her murder.

Kitty Genovese was a New Yorker and the eldest of five children. She worked as a bar manager on Jamaica Avenue. On March 13th, 194 she was driving home from her job and arrived home around 3:15am. She parked her car about 100 feet from her apartments door and began walking toward the building. As she walked toward her building a guy named Moseley approached her. Genovese began to run across the parking lot toward the front of her building. He ran after her and stabbed her in the back twice. She began screaming, “Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!” Several neighbors heard her cry for help, but no one seemed to intervene. He than ran away and frantically changed his clothes when a neighbor screamed out the window to leave that girl alone. Ten minutes later Moseley returned and found Genovese who was lying on the floor barely conscious. A locked door was preventing her from entering the building. out of the view of witnesses he stabbed her several more times. While Genovese played there dying he raped her, stole $49 from her, and left her in the hallway. Afterwards, a neighbor named Sophia left her apartment to go to the crime scene and held her in her arms until the ambulance arrived. She was pronounced dead in route to the hospital.

Records of the earliest calls to police are unclear and were not given a high priority by the police. One witness said his father called the police after the initial attack and reported that a woman was beat up, but got up and walked around. A few minute after the final attach, a witness called the police and arrived within minutes of the call. Reports of the attack in the New York Times covered a scene of indifference from neighbors who failed to come to Genovese’s aid. 37 witnesses supposedly saw or heard the attack and did not call the police. Her brother believes the police were summoned twice, but did not respond because they believed it was a domestic dispute. Genovese’s death could have been prevented if bystanders called the police or intervened sooner than they did.



Mar 16

Education Starts at Home

Our society has extremely high expectations of our educators. We expect them to teach our children the academic skills necessary to graduate from high school and attend college. However, our expectations don’t stop there. We also expect them to teach our children social skills, sexual education, finance management, how to resist drug and alcohol, how to deal with bullying, and how to treat everyone equally. That is a lot of pressure for teachers who have a limited amount of time and resources for each student, not to mention the meager pay.

At some point, parents need to step up and take responsibility for teaching our children right from wrong and how to get along in this world. Teachers can spend their whole days teaching life skills to students, but if the students go home and those teachings aren’t reinforced, then the lessons are wasted. Children need to learn from watching their parents manage their finances responsibly, manage their drug and alcohol use, and treat others with the kindness and respect they deserve.

Racial bias especially is a concept that children learn at home. If a child learns at school that the color of a person’s skin doesn’t matter, but they go home and hear their parents make racial slurs or prejudice comments, they become confused and will likely follow the behavior modeled by their parents. The work of the teacher becomes even harder when kids go home and see opposite behaviors modeled.

Teachers can implement lessons such as the brown eyes vs. green eyes experiment (Frontline. 1985) where children have experiences which teach them first-hand how it feels to be discriminated against. But the children need to also be learning at home that making people feel bad is wrong in order for those lessons to stick with them.

Education of our children cannot just be the job of the schools. Parents must step up and take responsibility for educating our children on how to navigate in this world. It is our job to teach the life skills, and have them reinforced at school, not the other way around. Teachers need to be able to focus on teaching academics, not how to deal with bullies or balance a checkbook.



Frontline. (1985). A Class Divided. Retrieved online at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/

Mar 16

Future success depend on Kindergarten?

Here in Cincinnati, we have a local news station that has been covering the alarming poverty level of children in the city, the problems that come with it and way to for residents to get out of poverty. It is common knowledge that having a solid base in learning is one of the best ways to get out of this situation but when there is little or no support at home it is difficult for children to get this base. This is where schools and teachers need to gain an understanding about how they can help these children strive to succeed. This needs would work along with what the schools are currently doing, such as, offering free or reduced priced breakfast, lunch and in some cases sustainable food for the child to take home each night or weekend in order for them to have something to eat until the weekend is over which lowers this concern for them. This is helpful but this is not enough to boost their ability to succeed in the classroom.

Children from lower socioeconomic background are in need of more supportive student-teacher relationship and classroom emotional support in order to promote student adjustment. In a study in the Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, by Lee and Bierman, (2015) 164 children were followed as they transitioned from a Head Start program into elementary school to see the level of aggression, social withdrawal, learning engagement and emergent literacy skills, depending on the type of kindergarten support they received. It was found that there is an important link between children with a positive kindergarten exposure and a close student-teacher relationship and later outcomes. While this would be true for any child it is especially important for children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who may not be getting the support they need from their family and who most likely live in neighborhoods where violence is commonplace.

The children I work with each day are from this background and often they do not have support at home due to their parents lack of education, parents stress over trying to make ends meet or the belief that education is not important. If a child comes from this type of home life, they will come to school unable to focus or understand the importance of education. However, if the class they attend is friendly, fun and engaging they will learn to enjoy learning and this can stay with them through life. In the school where work I can see a marked difference in the children’s behavior depending on the friendliness of the teacher and the amount of social support the child receives during the day. Some of the teachers encourage discussions if there is a problem, maintain a positive classroom culture, demand respect from the students and give them respect back. In these classrooms the students show a better ability to learn and are more productive in their assignments throughout the day. In other classes there are teachers who do not encourage discussion, they tell the children what they are to be doing and expect them to do it and give little respect. In these classes there are often disruptions, fights, children screaming and many students being sent to, In School Suspension. Learning for any student in a classroom such as this is difficult and for many of the students this is their first exposure to school so this is what they will expect school to be like each day.

This correlates with what the study by Lee and Bierman, (2015), where it was found that student-teacher relationship and classroom emotional support uniquely effect children’s behavioral outcomes by the first grade. (Lee, 2015). When a child is close to the teacher it can increase the feelings of emotional security thereby increase their sense of well-being and self-confidence in class which will increase their ability to learn more effectively. When children are comfortable with the teacher and feel valued by them the will be more willing to work harder in their assignments and are more willing to be friendly and helpful with each other. A positive classroom experience at any age will have a direct effect on how much is learned and retained but in the case of children in Kindergarten it is especially important, due to the fact, that it is what they will base their expectations of school on in the following years.



Lee, P., & Bierman, K. L. (2015). Classroom and Teacher Support in Kindergarten:    Associations With the Behavioral and Academic Adjustment of Low-Income    Students. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly61(3), 383-411.


Mar 16

Rice Ball

I dreamed of the day where I open my brown lunch bag and finding a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  In reality, I take out a clear film wrapped rice ball filled with ingredients such as dried pork shreds, eggs and small pieces of daikon. “Ewww what is that?”, a kid yelled.  Kids started gathering around me to see what I had in my hands.  Some would use their fingers pulling their eyes to the side to mock my eyes and some would make disgusted sounds.  This happened when I arrived in the United States when I was 7 years old. It was the first time I realized I was different than other kids and a casualty of social categorization and became a part of the out-group.  I remember it was me, a Korean kid and an Indian kid and we would sit at our own table during lunch time eating our not so American lunches.

One day, my second grade teacher, Mrs. Powell told us that she was going to divided us into groups and the groups are to sit together twice a week and complete an activity as a group.  Thinking back, she purposely placed a member of the out-group kid with the in-group children.  At first, as you could imagine nobody wanted to talk to me partly due to my poor English and they can’t understand me.  Mrs. Powell would sit with each group communicating to us about diversity, getting everyone involved and never neglected to involve positive affirmation when someone did something good.  She also encouraged us to say positive things to each other.   This activity promoted peer assisted learning.  Through self perception theory, in which a child may learn by observing others that certain behaviours can result in desirable outcomes. (Schineider, 2012) Kids begin to know me as a person and felt good about themselves when they helped me. It helped many of us to eliminate or overcome fundamental attribution error.

I almost forgot this this experience until I was thinking what I should write for this week’s blog.  I remembered what a wonderful teacher Mrs. Powell was and how she tried to establish a positive learning environment so we can successfully build our perception of the world. For this, I will be forever grateful to her.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Mar 16

Learning Starts at Home

We all have seen those kids that go to school to learn. These are the kids who have no discipline and are not learning a thing at home. These kids learn right only by way of school. These are the kids who are not being taught what they ought to know before they go to school. Then, there are the kids that go to school to practice what they have already learned. School is looked at in both a social aspect and academic aspect from pre-k through adolescence. Albert Bandura has pointed out that children act by mimicking what they have learned. He called this process observational learning (PSU, 2016). The process involves attention, retention, motor reproduction and motivation (2016). Just like in the Bobo Doll experiment, if a child goes to school that has only seen and retained violence, disrespect, arrogance, ignorance, helplessness and/or laziness at home, this is what the child will be like both socially and academically. This particular child through observational learning will reproduce these traits, thus only being able to go so far in a school atmosphere. These would be the ‘problem’ kids at school. The other kids are the ones, who through observational learning, outside of school have learned what they ought to know; respect, peace, helpfulness and motivation to do well both socially and academically.

Looking at the Bobo Doll experiment, one can relate this to teaching children in schools. If children are given role models to follow, namely counselors, teachers and older peers a child will learn what they ought to know through observational learning. It is not enough to tell a child how they ought to be or ought to act but also show them so that they will model the same behavior.

In my children’s school, they have many different programs and activities they utilize to help children learn through observational learning. One such program is they have older children come in and do assignments such as reading, handwriting, math and even art with younger children. This gives the kids someone to look up to. They have “Got Manners” awards, where kids are voted for based on their manners. They learn these manners by having lunches with older peers and adults to practice etiquette and such.

Observational learning should be a bigger part of school and home. Children see and hear everything and mimic what they see and hear. Teach children right.


PSU. 2016. Lesson 10 commentary.

Mar 16

High Expectations: A Planned Behavior

Five years ago my oldest son, Christian, was entering the 6th grade. It was a new school, in a new town. He had been having difficulties at the previous school such as bulling and lower grades. I requested that the bully be moved from the class my son was placed into with the kid that was known for bulling him. The school decided that since Christian had a stable living situation at home that it was better if he moved classrooms. Needless to say this was not okay with me and the bulling continued throughout the entire school year without the school intervening. We decided enough was enough. We moved back to my hometown.

Christian’s new teacher had a very different teaching style. She sets direct expectations of all the kids regardless of background, personality, or how smart or dumb the children think they are. They talk about strengths and weaknesses as well as what they want to accomplish in this school year.

The teacher did what I had seen no other teacher implement before, the theory of planned behavior. This theory is an account of behavior. “That predicts a person’s intention to behave in a particular manor.” (Schneider, 2012) She expects each student to behave in a certain manor and has high expectations set for not only their schoolwork but their behavior and achievements as well.

This makes the students perfectly aware of what others, the teacher, expects of them and how they should be motivated to fulfill with the expectations. (Schneider, 2012) When students understand what is expected of them and they are encouraged and rewarded for great achievement they then start to have faith and confidence in themselves.

This is exactly what happened with my son. Because of the bullying he had been dealing with the previous school year he had low self-esteem and didn’t believe that he could do the things she was talking about. However, with her motivation, high expectations and great leadership he flourished in and out of the classroom. He started doing better then ever in Math and fell in love with history. Her excitement for teaching and her encouragement in the classroom is like nothing I had encountered from a teacher before.

If teachers can set expectations and work with the children her classroom to get them to understand that they all have the capabilities to be great students then maybe far less children will get behind in the classroom. All too often teachers have already made up their minds about their students even before they step foot in the classroom. If the theory of planned behavior was implemented from the beginning of the year maybe this could lead to more students being motivated to please not only the teacher but themselves. In Christian’s case this made all the difference. He finally believed that he was capable of the things that were expected of him. Six years later he is graduating high school all because one teacher had high expectation (and encouragement from his parents).



Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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