Kitty Genovese and bystander behavior: The real story


Remember your introductory Psychology course where you heard about Kitty Genovese?.

In 1964, Ms. Genovese was murdered in New York City and, according to the common story repeated in most Psychology textbooks, 38 witnesses looked on and did nothing.

This article digs a little deeper and reviews the evidence presented at the resulting trial and other information and found that there were far fewer witnesses, that there was not much to see, and that they did intervene to some extent. Time to revise those textbooks.

The truth behind the story of Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect

No doubt, you’ve all heard of the bystander effect and the real-life case of Kitty Genovese, murdered in front of 38 witnesses who did nothing to help. But now Rachel Manning, Mark Levine and colleagues say the Kitty Genovese crime didn’t happen that way at all.

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