The Bystander Effect has been shown to be very accurate in judging human behavior. Human beings though are not grown in a petri dish and the variables of an experiment regarding humans are not ones that can be controlled perfectly. This statement is especially true of one being conducted on the street, though the video probably does not have all the elements of a proper experiment. Forces outside of the experimenter’s control are always at work particularly in public places. An experiment that focused more so on the size of the group being proportional to the time elapsed for help was done and presented. The numbers are pretty consistent. A change in clothing is not an example of pluralistic ignorance that was done when the man assisted the woman and then the indecisive woman came to help as well. She was taking her cue from another person. By changing to clothing that fit more with some of the people walking past, business like, the actor played on group solidarity. I would also argue that the construction worker who stopped might well have been from a similar social class as the dress the actress was portraying.
A social psychologist is not holding up Bystander Effect as the sole reason to explain human behavior and neither am I. Bystander Effect is certainly dependent on other variables because human beings do not live in a perfectly controlled environment. Group cohesiveness, cost-reward theory, pluralistic ignorance and other variables do play a part in these situations. Understanding the Bystander Effect will help develop methods to overcome this part of human reaction and group dynamic. Also note, as the researchers in the published experiment concluded that an individual’s lack of assistance is not due to apathy. The researchers concluded that those who did not act were under a great deal of stress, were greatly concerned about the individual in distress and exhibited all the signs of a person under duress. The people were still in decision mode. As you pointed at Trieste, the people around the rape victim froze. Despite knowing what they should do, the people did nothing because they were locked into indecision. Then they looked around to take their cues from other bystanders and continued in their state of indecision. Since nobody was doing anything, they didn’t want to be the odd one that did something.
Here is the Abstract of a paper documenting a change in Bystander Effect when group cohesiveness is worked into the equation. http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/44/3/545/.
If you want to purchase the full article be my guest.
My remarks could be considered an appeal to authority and pedantic if they were not followed with an actual experiment and a listing of other incidents where the Bystander Effect plays a role. The issue I have is that the words of a PhD should not be so easily dismissed as, “oh that’s a blog post.” Even if the specialty is not perfect in line with the topic of conversation there are still years of additional work and theory behind a PhD. I am not saying that only truth falls from the woman’s lips in regard to social psychology, only that being so dismissive with her words is showing disrespect for the field.
The problem with your statement Sabre is that the comment still comes back to power. Protection of the ego is certainly an aspect of power play because the victim threatens the perceived power of the attacker. The attacker then removes the victim’s power to reject him, to insult him, to resist his wants and desires. Were sex the ultimate goal of the act then, as we both agree, the attacker could just move on to another woman in a string of serial dates until one had sex with him. Cost-reward simply works out to the low output of effort of serial dates to raping a victim. Sex may have been a factor in asking the person out on a date, but power became a more important reason as the date progressed into rape. Either, as you said, because the ego was threatened or the attacker felt some threat from the person taken out on the date.