It was a case that caused waves of outrage in the United States in the years 64-65. A young woman, Kitty Genovese, was attacked by a knife-wielding rapist as she was coming home from work late at night. For 35 minutes she tried to get away from him, begging for help and screaming, under the gaze of 38 neighbors from nearby houses. The case was documented by two pioneers of social psychology, John Darley and Bibb Latane.



Returning to the experiment of the two young men, a young woman is groped and slapped by another young man somewhere on a crowded boulevard. In the article that alarmingly begins with "carelessness causes victims" is also the hopeful statement that two passersby jumped to the aid of the young woman. No other details about the experiment appear. But we have the opinion of a psychologist, popularized through the  illuminated sets  of some televisions.

You, a neophyte, can expect a psychologically  informed opinion  from a specialist. There's no need. Anticipating ignorance, I eagerly read on to find out the shit. Better yet, he wasn't reading. She interpreted that the “study” shows us a  phenomenon  for which the lady has an explanation inspired by folklore. With the certainty that she disarms the ignorant, she reveals to us that the phenomenon is one of  indifference and detachment towards others. That's why passersby didn't intervene, she says,  behaviorally . I mean, can it be done mentally, at a distance? You probably want to make it clear to us how people don't help because they are indifferent and detached from other people in need. For argument's sake, let's put it this way.

As a good psychologist, she did not hesitate to attribute the causes of the "phenomenon" to the personality of the passers-by while underestimating the importance of some situational factors (the fundamental attribution error). It is obvious that she is not familiar with the empirical literature in social psychology. If she had any ideas, she could enlighten us with what's called the  bystander effect  . In emergency situations (as was the tragic case of Kitty Genovese), people are less likely to offer help  when  in the presence of others than when they are alone.

Aiming for conceptual rigor for those who want science and not gibberish, we have a  psychological effect  , not a social phenomenon, distinct categories at different levels of analysis. In any good social psychology textbook we can find this  effect  documented in detail and included in the chapter on prosocial behaviors. Because it is about helping or prosocial behaviors, not about phenomena, because we work with people, not with the outside environment.

I open a textbook (2011) whose main author is the famous teacher and social psychologist Roy Baumeister. We find that the help we provide depends on  factors  related to context, social norms, altruism and empathy, likeness and attractiveness, affective disposition, degrees of kinship, and social exchanges (eg, help is more likely between people who are related).

People  can not  be indifferent and detached except some with personality pathologies. Most have  a prosocial orientation  based on two instincts. (Instinct means a set of behaviors that are innate and triggered by specific stimuli in the environment.) The first is to give back, give back (the sense of reciprocity) and the second is to be fair (or the sense of justice). From these two instincts blossomed the social norms of reciprocity, fairness, and equality. They regulate  the  behaviors of people in a group, community or society.

A prosocial behavior is one through which we contribute to the good of other people or to the good of a society (for example, Declic's community campaigns). We help each other in many ways. For example, based on the social (and legal) norm, we do it month by month through social contributions as part of everyone's income. It is a type of prosocial behavior. We expect, in return, to receive social and medical protection services from the public authorities (  in Sfântu Așeaptă)  .

In Romania, I assure you that people support each other. They are not indifferent and detached from others (with some exceptions). Probably even more than through other European countries. Who else can you trust when state institutions seem unable to provide protection? They are probably populated with poorly trained officials starting from their politically appointed bosses that fish head stinks. Even in the recent case of Caracal, I don't think those dispatchers were malicious. They didn't want to help. Their actions were  dictated  by the system in which they work. This is how they  (de)formedprofessionally (and probably with the soul). No, dismissals and sanctions (stop-fix) cannot solve deep problems of training and professional management. By the way, I laughed hysterically when I found out that STS can't locate us on the phone when we call 911 (although GoogleMaps does it with amazing accuracy).

Although, after laughing I was left with a bitter taste. I refuse to think what must be going through the minds of parents of girls in the face of a terrifying reality. The corruption of state institutions  perverts  the instincts to help. When the function is  emptied  of humanity.