In April, I participated in the A to Z challenge for my blog. This was my second year and likely my last year doing this. What I did for the challenge was introduce terms that should be taught as literary terms for a new age. To write about life, we need to understand life.
Today I’m going to talk about one of my articles. Diffusion of Responsibility. In my article, I stopped at a certain point, as my website is a place of writing education and not a platform for political discussion. I want to finish what I started.
Diffusion of Responsibility is a sociopsychological phenomenon where a person is less likely to take an action when other individuals are present, but might well take action if they are alone and perceive a credible threat.
This is due to the fact that when in a crowd, people believe that a situation unfolding is someone else’s responsibility. This occurs when a group is above a certain size and responsibility is not explicitly assigned.
Diffusion of Responsibility is an element found within Bystander effect. Other elements found within Bystander effect is also ambiguity (determining whether a person needs help) and cohesiveness (relationships found within a group).
There are several steps that a person within a group of people go through when analyzing a situation before them. This assumes that all things are equal and no other biases are in play.
1. Notice that something is going on.
Basically, how quickly will they become aware of the situation? Studies have shown that when people are alone, they become hyper-aware of their surroundings. However, as the number of people they are with increases, their perception decreases, and even is possible for them to be oblivious to what is happening around them.
This also can be seen as, someone does notice something and pretends not to; waiting to see how others act. Then doing something to join in, or standing back and still doing nothing.
2. Interpret the situation.
Once an individual has noticed a situation, whether on their own or someone within the group points it out, they then need to interpret the situation.
Is it an emergency situation?
When a person is on their own, they make the judgement for themselves. When in a group, they will look to the rest of the group to see their reaction. If this group doesn’t react, they are less inclined to react. This plays into the next point.
3. Degree of Responsibility
How responsible does one feel to the event happening before them. Three things help determine this:
- Whether or not they feel the person is deserving of help.
- Competence of the bystander
- Relationship between the bystander and victim.
For the first point, do they feel that the victim really needs help? Perhaps they stole a purse or wallet and they are being beaten because they were caught. That would be justification a person would use to not help a victim.
Next, is the bystander able to really understand the situation at hand?
Lastly, if a person knows the victim, they are more likely to react than not react, even in a group. If they don’t know the person, they are less likely to do anything.
If a person decides they should do something, they have one of two choices. Either they Directly Intervening, by stepping in and directly dealing with the problem. Or, Detour Intervention, where they run to report to an authority figure. This can also be seen as calling the cops.
You’d think by step 4 they are actually doing something, but that is just the step of considering what they should do. Many may decide that they should do something, and feel that getting involved is the right thing… however, they hold themselves back from actually doing it. That is why this is a separate step, that if they get to step 4 and actually doing something, then they might be a decent person.
However, if they get to step 4 and still do nothing, they very well could be a coward. Or, they got there and didn’t act because they simply didn’t want to, indicating they might be amoral.
It is also possible that someone else quickly got to step 5 before others and acted. In this case, the rest of the group might then decide to join said person who decides to act, so they can be part of the action. This is found within element of Mob mentality.
Now, onto the gendered discussion.
Take a look at this, then continue reading
We see two situations here of bystander effect.
- Man Abusing a Woman
- Woman Abusing a Man
Now, you might be saying that being in public, people are alone. It can be said that someone is alone within a crowd, but being in public is a type of group. It is actually possible to be both at the same time, when it comes to public. It really depends on how dense surrounding people are. The more people within a given vicinity, the more likely group think will emerge. Less dense, the more a person feels isolated.
Let us review the video.
In situation 1, what do we see? People reacting. In the outdoor sitting area, like a restaurant, you can see people take notice, analyze the situation, see that it is a woman in need, and directly intervene. Because it is a woman, these people are quick to step in and try to diffuse the situation. You could even say these are upstanding people, doing the right thing thing.
Another is outside a store. Now one person does intervene, and is ready to hurt the guy. Now this is a little bit tricky, because we can’t see other people. All we know is that no one else intervened. One person decided for themselves to do something. Everyone else did nothing.
However, when the guy attacked the guy, likely no else got involved because, the guy deserved it. He was beating up on a girl, and now a guy was beating up on him. Now you might say the guy in the green shirt was intervening to the two men, but he was already moving when the guy was attacking the girl. The store owner was already aware of what was going on.
That one guy who got involved seems like a good guy. Despite being in public, he did something about it. We can assume he didn’t look toward others, and likely felt he could do something about it. Would he have done something though if the man was bigger and stronger than him? Did he intervene because he could beat up the guy, or because he truly felt it was his duty to protect a woman?
Now, let’s switch gears and go to the other situation. We see on a street corner, a man is actually watching the events unfold before him, and he walks on by. Another man is avoiding his gaze from it until he’s a distance away and then looks.
As others are walking away, two guys stood there and were laughing. They got to step 2 and determined that the guy didn’t deserve help and rather deserved humiliation. How were they so quick to make that judgement? If the situation was reversed, would they had laughed at the girl getting beaten up? Definitely no, and quite possible would have stopped the guy.
Now one of those guys did get involved. But not to help the man, but to help the woman. He hit the man… further ridicule.
Let’s look at another scenario.
In front of a building, you can see people are aware of this. Often, then just walk away. They got to Step 1, notice no one else was doing anything, and pretend they didn’t either. Others looked, got to step 2, didn’t take the man as in need of help, and simply watched. Others laughed as they watched.
So when we discuss Diffusion of Responsibility and Bystander Effect in these two situations… what are we seeing here?
On the one hand, people are quick to react, but on another hand, people don’t react at all (or react incorrectly). The common denominator is gender.
When people take notice of something, they will then determine the state of emergency. When it is a woman, men and women will react strongly. Doesn’t matter the circumstances. A woman is always viewed as being in need.
However, a man is always seen as being able to take care of himself. Even when he is really in trouble, no one thinks twice. But it’s more than that. What are people thinking in this situation? Let’s ask them.
“She poses no credible threat to him”
“Didn’t think to protect the man at all”
“Good for her”
What we see is that people become aware and either feel he is in no danger or that he deserves it in some way. This again speaks that women are in need of protection. So if a man is being victimized by a woman, then there is no way that she is guilty of bad behavior, so it must mean that whatever is happening is the fault of the man.
Now, I mentioned up above that when people are alone, they are more likely to do something. I thing it is fair to say that people are isolated here. However, they must perceive a threat. Man being attacked by a woman is not a threat to the man.
As the cop said in that video, the moment the man laid a hand on the woman, he would have arrested him. Because you don’t hurt women.
This speaks to a larger issue that I often discuss. The problem with gender equality is much deeper than prissy cunts wanting to be snowflakes. It’s culture. Our culture believes that women at all times need our protection. If a man and a woman both share the same need, people will always help the woman over the man.
Changing culture is a very difficult thing to do. Feminists have been doing it for nearly 100 years, and they are doing a really great job of it. As MRA and Egalitarians, we are limited in what we can do now. Our first step is to raise awareness of men’s issues and try to get laws appealed. Over time, as we become more successful, we can start impacting culture to the point that men and women can take care of themselves and are responsible for their actions. More than that, when a person is in need, then people help a person in need… gender won’t matter.
For domestic abuse, if you see anyone attack another, your best move is to call the police. I hope you do. I don’t care if it is a woman attacking a man, get involved with the situation and put a stop to it. Don’t be part of the mindless crowd, be an individual and take this violence seriously.