Picture this. You’re out hiking in the wilderness—all alone and miles from civilization. You turn a corner on the trail and come upon a young man in torn clothes, looking disheveled and a little incoherent.
You’re on your way to your campsite, but he clearly needs help. As you approach, he explains he broke his leg, he’s been in the woods for days, and that he’d appreciate it if you could carry him, even just a few meters, to help him get back to the trailhead.
What do you do? Stop and help or ignore him and keep going?
If you’re a half-decent person, I can guess you chose the first option: to stop and help. In fact, you probably even feel it your duty to do so. There’s no one around, you’re the only one who can help, and you don’t want to feel responsible for what happens if you don’t.
So, not only do you help, you probably cancel your plans and help carry the guy all the way back. You don’t even think twice about it.
Now, picture this.
You’re dressed up and walking downtown to your first day at a new job. You’re not late, but you’re hurrying to get there a little early. Everyone’s out for their morning commute just like you, and you’re weaving your way through crowds on your way to the office.
Halfway there, you see a homeless man holding a sign: “Down on my luck. Need $ for food. Anything helps.”
Do you stop to give him your change, or do you continue to work?
If you’re anything like me, you probably tell yourself as you read this that you’d stop, but the reality is you don’t. And you can probably point to many times in your life—perhaps in just the last few days if you live in a big city—when you kept going rather than stopped to help.
What you’ve fallen victim to is called the Bystander Effect, and it doesn’t just keep you—a kind and caring person—from doing the right thing, it keeps others from helping you when you’re in need. Keep reading to learn how to overcome this strange psychological phenomenon so you won’t just be prepared to help others in need, but you’ll ensure you get the help you need in trying times.… Continue Reading →