From empathy to apathy: the bystander effect revisited

Hortensius, R. and de Gelder, B. (2018) From empathy to apathy: the bystander effect revisited. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(4), pp. 249-256. (doi: 10.1177/0963721417749653) (PMID:30166777) (PMCID:PMC6099971)

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The bystander effect, the reduction in helping behavior in the presence of other people, has been explained predominantly by situational influences on decision making. Diverging from this view, we highlight recent evidence on the neural mechanisms and dispositional factors that determine apathy in bystanders. We put forward a new theoretical perspective that integrates emotional, motivational, and dispositional aspects. In the presence of other bystanders, personal distress is enhanced, and fixed action patterns of avoidance and freezing dominate. This new perspective suggests that bystander apathy results from a reflexive emotional reaction dependent on the personality of the bystander.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research 2007–13 (ERC Grant agreement numbers 249858 “Tango” and 295673).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hortensius, Dr Ruud
Authors: Hortensius, R., and de Gelder, B.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Current Directions in Psychological Science
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1467-8721
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Current Directions in Psychological Science 27(4): 249-256
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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