Subway Sociology

Because of the abundance of social interaction and diverse clientele, subways have long been the sites of sociological experiments to understand human behavior.

"The crucial context for many of the 1970s studies was the Queens murder of Kitty Genovese, whose cries for help were purportedly ignored by her neighbors. The Genevose story became the ur-narrative of uncaring urban pathology (even if its details were later called into question). The subway offered a perfect testing ground for the emerging subfield of 'bystander studies.' The aforementioned 'Good Samaritan' paper, for example, had a Columbia University student stagger and collapse on a subway train, 'looking supine at the ceiling.' In some trials, the subject acted drunk; in others, ill. (People were more likely to help in the latter condition.) Interestingly, that study found no support for the so-called 'diffusion of responsibility' effect-the idea, per the Genovese murder, that the more bystanders were present, the less likely it was that any one person would help. In fact, the reverse was found."

Thanks to Streetsblog LA

Full Story: Underground Psychology



Michael Lewyn's picture

Ironic example

since about 90% of what the authors think they know about the Kitty Genovese case is dead wrong.

Re assault not appearing as murder

One line in the article that Michael Lewyn sent states that the witnesses did not see a situation that appeared to be murder. One simply saw a man beating a woman.

Isn't that bad enough to warrant intervention? I am tired of reading stores about women being beaten like it is no big deal.

Michael Lewyn's picture

In the middle of the article...

The author points out (I think around the 9th or 10th page) that there was some intervention - not just calling the police, but also someone yelled at the murderer, causing him to temporarily abandon his attack.


I didn't read every page, so I missed that. Gee, more intervention that yelling at the man would have been nice!

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