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To know what is the Genovese syndrome or Spectator effect we must know its history, and for this we will go back to March 13, 1964, when Kitty Genovese, 28, was stabbed near her apartment in New York City.
Neighbors ignored his cries for help during the 35 minutes of the three attacks he suffered.
According to the police, more than 37 people heard, and possibly sawat least one of the attacks Genovese suffered. No one came to his aid or called the police. They only did so after the third attack, which had ended his life.
This display of collective indifference sparked tabloid press coverage, horrified the nation, and promoted numerous psychological studies in which he would come to be known as Genovese syndrome, or more generically, like bystander effect.
The witnesses interviewed later gave, in general, two excuses to justify its omission: one was the fear and the other the not wanting to get involved. This made a police captain wonder why anyone would hesitate to pick up the phone and call for help from the safety of their home.
The police maintained that, if they had been called after the first attack, Genovese would probably have survived his injuries, since a patrol car was two minutes from the crime scene at that moment.
Whatever it was that caused so many witnesses to willfully ignore what was happening on the other side of their door, Genovese's murder sparked numerous psychological and sociological investigations about this kind of behavior.
One of the most famous studies, conducted by the social psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latané, concluded that the greater the number of witnesses at the scene of an emergency or crime, the less likely an individual will act.
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