In April 2008, Mayor Bloomberg announced the expansion of 311 to include human service referrals, creating the nation's largest social service information and referral center.
There are in fact many reasons why bystanders in groups fail to act in emergency situations, but social psychologists have focused most of their attention on two major factors.
According to a basic principle of social influence, bystanders monitor the reactions of other people in an emergency situation to see if others think that it is necessary to intervene. Since everyone is doing exactly the same thing (nothing), they all conclude from the inaction of others that help is not needed. This is an example of pluralistic ignorance or social proof.
The other major obstacle to intervention is known as diffusion of responsibility. This occurs when observers all assume that someone else is going to intervene and so each individual feels less responsible and refrains from doing anything.
There are other reasons why people may not help. They may assume that other bystanders are more qualified to help, such as doctors or police officers, and that their intervention would be unneeded. People may also experience evaluation apprehension and fear losing face in front of the other bystanders.
They may also be afraid of being superseded by a superior helper, offering unwanted assistance, or facing the legal consequences of offering inferior and possibly dangerous assistance. An example is the limitation of California's Good Samaritan Law, limiting liability for those attempting to provide medical services as opposed to non-medical (extraction from automobile) services.
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