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Case Study banner
Wednesday 11:00-11:30,
7 May - 28 May 2008
Claudia Hammond presents a series on case studies that have made a significant contribution to psychological research.
11 - 11.30am
7 May 2008
Listen to this programme in full
Kitty Genovese
When a young woman, Kitty Genovese, was brutally killed in a prolonged attack in New York in 1964, not one of 38 witnesses called for help until too late.

The case led to the naming of the phenomenon known as the Bystander Effect..
Futher information

Joseph De May's website covering the history of Kew Gardens, Queens, New York

Original New York Times report

Articles reviewing the case, 40 years on

Nightmare on Austin Street

Twisted Confessions, by Charles Skoller, 
Bridgeway Books 13:978-1-934454-17-6 and ISBN-10: 1-934454-17-6

Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case, by AM Rosenthal, preface by Samuel Freedman
Publisher: Melville House Publishing (30 May 2008)
ISBN-10: 1933633298 ISBN-13: 978-1933633299

Classic Case Studies in Psychology, by Geoff Rolls,
Publisher: Hodder Arnold (30 Jun 2005) 
ISBN-10: 0340886927 ISBN-13: 978-0340886922

The Kitty Genovese Murder and the Social Psychology of Helping: the parable of the 38 witnesses
American Psychologist, 62(6), 555-562 (Adobe pdf format)

John Darley

Samuel Freedman

Rachel Manning

Harold Takooshian
Harold Takooshian advises that people think about what actions they could take in emergencies before the need arises, so they're prepared when it does. He outlines three levels of intervention.

Levels of intervention

If you feel able to intervene there are three ways of doing so at an individual level. The key is to decide in advance of any emergency the extent to which you feel you could get involved in another person's crisis.

1) Deterrence

This is the simplest form of intervention, where you try to avert a crime before it happens by making sure the suspect knows you are present, aware of the situation and ready to act. For example, if you see a man on the subway eyeing a woman's necklace, start up a conversation with her so that it's clear you'll be her ally if anything happens. If you see someone trying to break into a car, stop and stare from a distance of 30 feet until they go away.

2) Interruption

If you witness a crime, act quickly and decisively to make the criminal feel he's about to be caught while leaving him easy access to escape. For example, you could shout out of the window that your three brothers are on the way down to help and that the police are on their way. If you can do so from a safe distance you could conspicuously take a photo on your mobile phone.

3) Apprehension

This is the most uncommon and most difficult type of involvement, in which the citizen tries to hold the suspect until the police arrive. ONLY do this is you are physically and emotionally ready for action and if you're certain there is no accomplice nearby.

With all these options an NYPD spokesman advises "Don't directly get involved if there is a strong possiblity you will become a casualty. But if you feel you can handle the situation, then intervene."
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