Why didn’t they help? – Bystander Effect

On February 2, 2005, Matthew Carrington, a 21 year old university student, died from water intoxication in a hazing accident. He was doused with excessive amounts of water by his 4 fraternity brothers and was made to do calisthenics while standing on one foot on top of a bench. He collapsed due to hypothermia, which is the condition of having an extremely low body temperature, and then past away due to water intoxication as his brain swelled. Although the 4 brothers had a choice to immediately call an ambulance or call for help, they decided not to because of the bystander effect.

I believe that the 4 fraternity brothers were influenced by ‘social influence’, and ‘inhibition’. Although one of them tried to call the ambulance, he got influenced by the other boy who said he was just asleep and was convinced that there was no need to call for help. This is because people have the tendency to follow what people around them are doing instead of thinking carefully about their own decisions, and they also feel safer and reassured. I think the act of making Matthew Carrington drink large amounts of water until he collapsed also relates to the bystander effect because even though they could have prevented this accident if one of the boys had said to the other 3 that they should stop, no one took action and instead, they kept quiet and followed other people since they were scared about how their brothers might think of them negatively, or not being able to ‘fit in’ well.

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