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The Murder of Kitty Genovese


At 3:15 am, Kitty parked in a lot 20 feet from her apartment door. ... Ancona & Pareyson (1968) 85. Students. USA. Rosenhan (1974) 65. 65. Male general population ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Murder of Kitty Genovese

The Murder of Kitty Genovese
  • Catherine Kitty Genovese, 28, Was murdered in
    Queens, NY, on March 13, 1964.

  • At 315 am, Kitty parked in a lot 20 feet from
    her apartment door.
  • A man approached her from the darkness

  • Oh my God! He stabbed me! she screamed. Please
    help me! Please help me!... Im dying! Im dying
  • Lights go on in nearby buildings

  • A neighbor observes attack from 7th floor window
    across the street. He yells down, Hey, let that
    girl alone!
  • Attacker gets frightened and retreats to his car.
  • But he returns minutes later, finds Kitty
    bleeding to death inside a hallway and finishes
    what he started to use his words.

  • I heard a scream for help, three times,  a
    neighbor told the court, I saw a girl lying down
    on the pavement with a man bending down over her,
    beating her.
  • At least 38 people heard or observed some part of
    the fatal assault.
  • Attack lasted 32 minutes

  • No one called the police during the 32-min
    attack. Why didnt anyone respond?

At 350 a.m a neighbor finally called the
police. But before he did, he called a friend and
asked his opinion about what he should do.
  • We thought it was a lovers quarrel! said one
  • Frankly, we were afraid, said another witness.
  • A man wanted to call the police, but his wife
    thought otherwise. I didnt let him. I told him
    there must have been 30 calls already. 
  • I didnt want my husband to get involved.
  • We went to the window to see what was happening,
    but the light from our bedroom made it difficult
    to see the street.
  • I was tired.

Bystander Effect
  • Ambiguity
  • Pluralistic ignorance
  • Diffusion of responsibility

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Bystander Effect
Social Comparison
  • How we interpret social events and settings
  • We use others perceptions to fill holes in our
    own understanding of complex issues
  • Zimbardo Video 19 Power of the Situation

Types of Social Influence
  • Conformity
  • To change perceptions, opinions, and behavior to
    be consistent with group norms
  • Compliance
  • To change behavior in response to a direct
  • Obedience
  • To change behavior in response to commands from
    an authority figure

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Asch (1956)
  • 1 true subject, 7 confederates
  • Initial few trials, all give right answers
  • Later trials, all give WRONG answer, unanimously

Results from Asch
  • 75 of subjects conformed on at least one trial
  • Subjects conformed 37 on average
  • Group exerted normative influence by instilling
    fear of appearing deviant
  • Led to public conformity (surface behavior
    change) in the subjects.

Break in Conformity
  • Ally subject rarely yielded (10)
  • Wrong confederate subject rarely yielded (14)

Distress and Difficulty
  • Distressed by easier decisions, less distressed
    by harder ones (e.g., 6 v 6.25)

Influences on Conformity
  • Group size
  • Conformity increases with group size up to four
    persons in the group, then levels off
  • Awareness of group norms
  • Conformity increases when norm is brought to a
    persons attention
  • Ally in dissent
  • Presence of dissenter reduces conformity

Age Gender Differences
  • Young adolescents more vulnerable to peer
    pressure than younger children or adults
  • Older people (60y) conform less often than
    younger adults
  • Sex differences are weak and unreliable
  • Small sex differences emerge in face-to-face
  • Women conform more and men conform less when they
    think they are being observed

Interpersonal nature of reality
  • Many anxious and disturbed by groups responses
    when they went with group or went alone
  • And unsure if they were right

  • Disrupt-Then-Reframe Techniques
  • Door in the face
  • Foot in the door

  • Social influences vary in degree of pressure they
    exert on individuals, and how much risk is
    involved in resisting this influence

  • Would you give a stranger a
  • lethal shock if asked to?

From 1933-45, millions of innocent people
systematically slaughteredHow could this happen?
  • When you think of the long and gloomy history of
    man, you will find more hideous crimes have been
    committed in the name of obedience than have ever
    been committed in the name of rebellion.
  • C. P. Snow (1905 - 1980)
  • From Science and Government , 1961

More puzzled intellectuals declaring their
mystification over the systematic murder of
millions. The reason they can never answer the
question "How could it possibly happen?" is that
it's the wrong question...
  • given what people are, the question is "Why
    doesn't it happen more often?
  • Woody Allen, 1986, Hannah Her Sisters

The Banality of Evil
  • Conformity
  • Authoritarian personalities
  • Obedience

Effect of Punishment on Memory
  • Learner is confederate mentions untrue mild
    heart condition.
  • Teacher (true subject) straps learner, samples 45
    volt jolt
  • Examiner says shocks may be painful but no
    permanent damage

Version 1 n40, Yale
Effect of Punishment on Memory
  • Shocks on machine run from 15 (mild) to
    450 volts (XXX) in steps of 15 volts
  • Learners script
  • 120 shout about pain
  • 150 demand experiment stops
  • 180 no more pain!
  • 300 pounds on wall, screams
  • 330 single cry then answers no more
  • Examiners prod subjects when they attempt to end

Learner is an actor
Effect of Punishment on Memory
  • Prior to experiments start, psychiatrists
    predicted most would stop at 150 volts and only 1
    in a 1000 might give maximum shock (450 volts)

Obedience to Authority Experiment
  • 65 gave maximum shock!
  • Failure to judge power of situational factors in
    determining behavior

Obedience to Authority Experiment
  • Coercive factors
  • Yale grounds
  • Worthy goal
  • Subject volunteered
  • Learner volunteered
  • Paid to come to lab
  • Chance role
  • Assured not dangerous
  • Must met demands on 1 of 2 people
  • Little time for reflection
  • Not to harm vs not to obey

Experimental Variations
  • FIRST RESULTS 65 obeyed fully Percent fully
  • 1) Experimenter absent 23
  • 2) Max. Proximity (touch) 30
  • 3) Proximity (same room) 40
  • 4) Bridgeport Office 48
  • 5) Adult women 65
  • 6) Group (others quit) 10
  • 7) Group (subsidiary role) 93

Maximum compliance (450 volts)
Factors that increase obedience
  • Legitimacy of the authority
  • (vs ordinary person)
  • Greater distance from the victim
  • (touch - different room)
  • Closer supervision by authority (absent, present,
  • Presence of people who modeled obedience
  • Lack of dissent in group
  • Gender, age, education not relevant

Cross-Cultural Studies Replicating Milgram (1963)
 back to 9710 homepage     -      back to Dr.
Whatley's homepage
Reference           Smith, P. B., Bond, M. H.
(1994). Social psychology across cultures
Analysis and perspectives. Boston, MA Allyn and
Example Transcript start here
  • Subject is a 50y unemployed man. After
    delivering 180-volt shock, he pivots around in
    the chair and addresses experimenter in agitated
  • Subject I can't stand it I'm not going to kill
    that man in there. You hear him hollering?
  • Experimenter As I told you before, the shocks
    may be painful, but . . .
  • S But he's hollering. He can't stand it. What's
    going to happen to him?
  • E The experiment requires that you continue
  • S I refuse to take the responsibility. He's in
    there hollering
  • E It's absolutely essential that you continue.
  • S All right.
  • (He continues the experiment. Learner shocked)

STANLEY MILGRAM 1933-1984 Milgram studied with
Solomon E. Asch
Example Transcript
  • Learner (screaming) Let me out of here! You have
    no right to keep me here! Let me out of here, my
    hearts bothering me, let me out!
  • S You see he's hollering. Hear that?
  • E The experiment requires . . .
  • S I know it does sir, but I mean -- he doesn't
    know what he's getting in for. He's up to 195
  • (Experiment continues, through 210 volts, 225
    volts, 240 volts, 255 volts, 270 volts, at which
    point subject, with evident relief, runs out of
    word-pair questions.)
  • E You'll have to go back to the beginning of
    that page and go through them again until he's
    learned them all correctly.

Example Transcript
  • (Experiment continues with no responses by
    learner. At 375 volts, the subject stands up.)
  • S I think something's happened to that fellow
    in there. I don't get no answer. He was hollering
    at less voltage. Can't you check in and see if
    he's all right, please?
  • E Not once we've started. Please continue,
  • S (sits down, sighs deeply) "Cool day, shade,
    water, paint." Answer please. Are you all right
    in there? Are you all right,
  • E Please continue, Teacher. Continue, please.
    (Subject pushes lever. Zzumph!)
  • S You accept all responsibility?
  • E The responsibility is mine. Please go on.

Example Transcript
  • Subject returns to his list, runs thru words as
    rapidly as he can read them, works through to 450
  • S That's that.
  • E Continue using the 450 switch for each wrong
  • S But I don't get anything!
  • E Please continue

  Theories about why people obey
  • Normative influence we are taught to obey
    authority from an early age
  • Informational influence Because we can't know
    everything, we trust experts when situation is
    confusing or ambiguous.
  • Fast pace -- not enough time to make good
  • Conflicting norms (obey authority and don't hurt
    people) are difficult to resolve
  • Incremental steps (foot-in-the-door compliance
    technique) starts out reasonable, each small
    increase is reasonable, so where do we draw the
  • Cognitive dissonance theory we act to meet
    rationale of past actions after shocks got too
    high, can't undo past behavior and don't want to
    label self as "bad" or "immoral"

  • Given strong situational factors, most people
    will obey orders to hurt someone

Do these effects occur in "real life"?
  • Bushman (1988)
  • Woman searches for change for parking meter.
    Another woman orders pedestrians to give her a
  • Second woman dressed
  • - In uniform
  • - In business suit
  • - As panhandler
  • Results More persons gave money if ordered by
    woman in uniform.
  • Hofling et al. (1966)
  • Nurses telephoned by a doctor they didn't know.
  • Ordered to administer a non-prescribed drug they
    had never heard of at double maximum dosage to a
  • 22 nurses were called.
  • Results 21 followed the doctor's orders.
  • However when experiment repeated with drug nurses
    were familiar with, no one obeyed.

Fundamental Attribution Error
  • Tendency for people to over-emphasize
    dispositional, or personality-based, explanations
    for behaviors observed in others while
    under-emphasizing the role and power of
    situational influences on the same behavior.
  • Economic decision based on limited data

Fundamental Attribution Error
  • Positive effects of social influence
  • End of VHS 1518.19 radio theft eye test with

Prisoners Dilemma Rules about Trust
  • Formalizing decisions on trustworthiness and
    trustful behaviors

Prisoners Dilemma Solution?
  • Tit for Tat strategy
  • Cooperate on 1st round and thereafter simply
    repeats opponent's play on the previous round.
  • Doesnt allows succeed
  • Evolution models

  • USA

Missiles of October, 1961 Kennedy v Khrushchev
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
  • Festinger (1957) Dissonance is a tension that
    arises when what we think conflicts with what we
  • To relieve tension, we often change what we think
    about ourselves
  • We dont change how we act to fit our ideals, but
    change our ideals
  • Dr Phil 11

Festingers Experiment
  • Attitude0 Initial dislike of tedious task
  • Behavior Recruit others to do task
  • Behavioral reward 1 or 20
  • Condition20 behaved for money only
  • so Attitude0 still holds
  • Condition1 Money not sufficient to explain your
    behavior to yourself so you must have another
    reason actual interest in task, perhaps
  • Attitude0 is changed

Major Conclusions
  • Conformity and obedience are much greater than
    anyone expected.
  • People don't really know how they will behave in
    many situations.
  • The situation is extremely powerful in
    determining people's behavior.
  • Obedience is a basic element of social life

Nuremburg Trials
Ethical considerations of Milgrams work
  • Consent - not informed. 
  • Participants volunteered for a learning
    experiment, not on obedience. 
  • Deception
  • Shocks not real. Victim not really a participant
  • Protection of subjects (now called participants)
  • Many subjects displayed extreme stress reactions,
  • Withdrawal from the investigation
  • physically yes but strong social pressures made
    it unlikely. 
  • Experimenters used prods such as 'you have no
    alternative, you must go on
  • Observation - participants were filmed without
    their consent.
  • And other forms of confidentiality

Ethics of Psychological Research
  • Ethical Issues
  • 1. Risk/Benefit Ratio
  • A. Definition of risk and Determination of risk
    B. Dealing with risk (or no lasting harm)
  • 2. Informed Consent
  • A. Nature of consent or assentB. Withholding
    information from subjects

Ethics of Psychological Research
  • 3. Deception
  • A. Controversy surrounding deception B. Decision
    to use deception C. Problems arising from casual
    use of deception D. Role playing as alternative
    to deception
  • 4. Privacy (confidential or anonymous)

Ethics of Psychological Research
  • 5. Additional Responsibilities to Research
  • A. Sharing and utilizing data B. Providing
    participants with information about study
  • 6. Research With Animals
  • 7. Reporting Psychological Research

Recent social issue school shootings
Risk Factors in School ShootingVerlinden, Mersen
Thomas (2000) eight cases examined
  • Individual factors
  • Threatened violence
  • Detailed plan for attack
  • Blamed others for problems
  • Peer factors
  • Poor coping and social skills
  • Felt rejected by peers
  • Felt picked on, persecuted
  • Member of antisocial peer group (6 of 8)
  • Social environmental factors
  • Access to firearms
  • Fascinated with weapons and explosives
  • Preoccupied with violent media (music, films,
  • Attack-related factors
  • Communicated violent intentions
  • Experienced recent loss (7 of 8)

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