We don’t just copy actions of “similar others,” we also copy their inactions. That’s social proof, and part of the reason which explains the bystander effect. The other reason is the idea that responsibility gets diffused when the number of bystanders increases and people don’t act assuming that someone else would act.
But there are some people who act. What causes them to think differently from the others?
To find out, see the video again. At 4:22, the lady who called the police is asked, “Why did you get involved?” She answers, “How can I NOT get involved?”
Like the other bystanders who did nothing, she could have asked herself “Should I get involved?” Framed that way, her mind would have very quickly produced two reasons for not doing so. One, “no one is doing anything.” That’s social proof. And two, “its not my problem.” That’s diffusion of responsibility.
She framed it the other way.
That kind of thinking is capable of saving lives…