Philanthropy in Kuwait – psych-101

I decided to hit the mall scene last weekend and was surprised at an incident that occurred.

As I was heading into Marina, chatting over the phone with the friends I was supposed to be meeting, a girl my age in a car motions for me to go to her, asking if she can use my phone.

The first thing I did was check how she was parked, unfortunately. A quick glance to the front of her car assured me that she could not speed away. I then let her use my phone.

The point in question, when did we as people become so skeptic of those in need? Is it the medias fault? We are always bombarded with news on how a person would drive off with someone elses phone after asking to use it, those or kidnap those who ask for directions, assistance, flat tires etc. The list is endless. Again, we have become desensitised to the plight of our fellow human beings.

A phenomenon used in psychology, the bystander effect, proves this point. Where are you more likely to receive assistance with a flat tire, on a busy street with lots of traffic, or a highway with few cars passing every so often? It is the former, and not the latter, and the reason is the bystander effect. When in crowded areas, your most immediate reaction is someone else will help this person, I need not worry about it.

Wikipedia: The bystander effect or Genovese syndrome is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases where individuals do not offer help in an emergency situation when other people are present. The probability of help has in the past been thought to be inversely proportional to the number of bystanders; in other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help.

 Unfortunately, not everyone is sincere in their request for assistance, as evidenced in the news as well. How to draw a balance between those in real need and the phonies?

The world would be a much better place, if we judged each incident on case-by-case.

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