Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Psychology 101 Gets it Wrong

USA Today reports that while the Bystander Effect might exist, three psychologists suggest the traditional Genovese story has been debunked and should be corrected in the classroom.
It's straight out of Psychology 101: "The Bystander Effect," a phenomenon illustrated by the infamous 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese as 38 callous neighbors ignored her screams for help.
Except that while details of the case were exposed as dubious over the years, psychology instructors and students still operate off the original parable of bad Samaritans united by indifference to a gruesome attack, according to an article by three British university professors.
As the three professors prepared the article, Manning said, they were struck by the Genovese case as a contemporary parable — the antithesis of the Biblical tale of the Good Samaritan, who stopped to assist a traveler assaulted by thieves on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.

But she acknowledged the article might make little difference in future retellings of the case. "Once such 'facts' become generally accepted," Manning said, "they are often difficult to correct."

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