Surely someone called 911. That person has been screaming for a few minutes now. Wish emergency responders would get here. That person really needs help. Surely someone else will help.

Bystander Effect is a psychological theory that we keep seeing, over and over, in a variety of ways. If a single individual is asked to complete a task or feels compelled by circumstance to complete a task, the sense of responsibility is strong and they will most likely complete it. If a group is faced with the same circumstances, each person’s sense of responsibility is weakened and each feels sure that another will take on the task, often leaving the task undone.

Anyone who has ever served on a large volunteer committee or even just done a group project in the third grade would be familiar with the Bystander Effect. In non-emergent situations, the Bystander Effect looks like apathy or an unwillingness to volunteer. More recent studies show that, when applied to workplace settings, subordinates will refrain from informing managers of their ideas or concerns out of the assumption that their idea or opinion has already been thought of, considered, and dismissed.

Listen in as Michelle and JoyGenea discuss the Bystander Effect and how it might show up in your workplace.