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mwengler comments on Bystander Apathy - Less Wrong

25 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 13 April 2009 01:26AM

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Comment author: mwengler 06 January 2011 11:26:41PM 1 point [-]

My intuition is the bystander effect is highly related to the fact that most crowds/groups in audiences will not speak, or even that most people at a social gathering hate to be the first to go to the buffet. At work I make a point of asking questions of presenters early on, of volunteering somewhat unfiltered interaction with the presenter when he asks for it. I believe my action greatly increases the rate of participation of co-workers in the interactive presentations in which I do this. My intuition is this is related to "warming up an audience," a process where if you ever go to a TV filming you will be encouraged to yell, scream, answer silly questions, and just generally abandon your inhibitions before the filming actually starts. They WANT filmable (at least audible) audience reaction and presumably they have learned that 'warmed up" audiences provide a lot more of that.

The reticence in all cases may have more to do with an evolved wariness of strangers than anything else. If someone I knew reasonably well were lying on the ground looking like he might POSSIBLY need help, I would not ignore him just because everybody else was ignoring him.