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Barriers to Helping

Why People Don't Help

1.      Don't notice the event

             a.       People may not notice the event because they are distracted by other things around them

             b.      Some people may not notice event because they don't want to notice event

2.      Didn't interpret event as a problem or emergency

             a.       Situations are often ambiguous and it isn't clear if someone needs help or not.

3.      Didn't assume personal responsibility

             a.       People often incorrectly assume that someone else will help and that they don't need to.

4.      Didn't know how to help

             a.       Often people feel that they lack the proper skills and knowledge to help efficiently, so they end up not helping at all.

5.      Didn't implement help

             a.       Cost/Reward analysis- many people know how to help and don't because of the cost and benefits of helping.

*Each stage of not helping must be analyzed for effective bystander training. Training must help individuals: 1. Notice the event, 2. Interpret the event as a problem or emergency, 3. Assume personal responsibility, 4. Know how to help, and then 5. Implement help. [1]


[1] Source: Step Up Prosocial Behavior/Bystander Intervention PowerPoint Presentation 5 Decision Making Steps

More on why people don't help...

  • Distracted
  • Not in tune with surroundings
  • Not wanting to see situations beyond self
  • It's not clear if help is needed.
  • It is none of our business.
  • We don't want to act different from the people around us.
  • We think others have more information than we do.
  • We think others  will act if something needs to be done.
  • We don't want to be wrong.
  • We might be embarrassed.
  • We're not sure how someone will respond so we're afraid.
  • We are not sure how to help.
  • We fear loss of relationships, with the problem person or with others who may disapprove of action.
  • We fear retaliation, especially if the problem person is powerful.
  • We don't feel safe.