Stand out from the crowd
You’re in a training workshop and the facilitator asks if anyone has any questions. But no one wants to stand out from the crowd.
You know that you didn’t quite understand something, but nobody else has put their hand up and asked the “dumb question”.
So, you just sit there, in sublime ignorance, possibly never knowing the answer.
Psychologists call it “pluralistic ignorance”. Typically, the only person being hurt by not asking the question is you.
But could “following the crowd”, become a matter of life or death?
The British Heart Foundation carried out a survey discovering that 1 in 3 people wouldn’t attempt Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on somebody who collapsed in front of them.
Some even admitted, they wouldn’t even call an ambulance, expecting someone else had already done so, a situation described as “diffusion of responsibility”.
Therefore, because nobody else is doing anything, bystanders assume, it can’t be that serious, so they needn’t get involved, either – “pluralistic ignorance”.
They frequently lack the confidence to help or feel under qualified to do anything at all.
The bystander effect
This inability to act, is commonly known as the “bystander effect”
However, in the cold light of day, following the incident, you’re likely to be overwhelmed with guilt, horrified and embarrassed that you failed to help.
Psychologists studied this bystander effect, and now believe that simply knowing that it happens, may well overcome its effectiveness.
With knowledge of this effect, they may now react differently and come to the aid of someone in trouble.
If you were on your own and someone collapsed, you’d probably help.
Being in a crowd you become immune to their distress, prepared to be a spectator.
So now you know – what are you afraid of?
There’s no shame in looking a bit silly if you’re the only one reacting.
Just stand and watch and you may feel guilty at not saving a life, learn what to do and you could do just that.
Find out what to do and have confidence to act in an emergency – join one of our First Aid courses and step out from the crowd.