You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or sign in to view the full course.

Helping and Help-Seeking

2. Helping: Kitty Genovese and the Bystander Effect

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or sign in to view this lecture.

  • About this Lecture
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we think about early social psychological research into helping behaviour. We begin by considering the case of Kitty Genovese, a murder case from 1960s New York in which a young woman was attacked while a large number of onlookers allegedly failed to help or intervene. Although the accuracy of this account has been questioned in later research by Manning, Levine and Collins (2007), the case nevertheless had an important influence on contemporary research into helping behaviour and famously inspired Darley and Latané’s study The Unresponsive Bystander (1970). We look at two key models to have come out of their research, (i) the Decision Model of Helping and (ii) the Bystander Effect, and discuss how these models can help us to question the traditional view of non-helpers as callous or uncaring.


In this course, Dr Juliet Wakefield (Nottingham Trent University) discusses the social psychology of helping and help-seeking. Module one provides a general introduction to the topics of helping and help-seeking, while the following modules look in more detail at the social psychological research that has been carried out in this area over the past six decades. In module two, we think about early research into helping behaviour with a particular focus on the case of Kitty Genovese and its influence on the development of Darley and Latané’s theory of the Bystander Effect. Module three considers later research into helping behaviour which was informed by Tajfel and Turner’s social identity approach. We then move on to think about help-seeking and help-receiving, focusing on the Threat to Self-Esteem Model in module four and the importance of group memberships for helping transactions in module five. Module six concludes the course with a summary of key points.


Juliet completed her PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Dundee in 2011. Her PhD research concerned the act of help-seeking, and investigated whether group members may use help-seeking as a tool to manage and enhance their group's image in the eyes of others. Juliet then spent four years as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Dundee, working on Professor Fabio Sani's ESRC-funded Health In Groups project. This project investigated the relationships between membership of social groups (family, community, sports groups, etc.) and health. Juliet joined NTU in August 2015. Juliet is a member of the Individuals, Identities, and Cultures research group. In general terms, Juliet's research interests lie within the domains of Social Identity Theory and Self Categorisation Theory, and the implications of group membership for people's everyday lives. This includes intergroup / intragroup helping and help-seeking, the impact of groups on health and well-being, gender identity, national identity, and online identities.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Wakefield, J. (2020, March 23). Helping and Help-Seeking - Helping: Kitty Genovese and the Bystander Effect [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Wakefield, Juliet. "Helping and Help-Seeking – Helping: Kitty Genovese and the Bystander Effect." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Mar 2020,

Image Credits