Social Impact Theory is a psychological concept that explains how individuals are influenced by the presence and actions of others around them. It explores how individuals conform to social norms and how group behavior affects individual behavior. An example of Social Impact Theory can be seen in the case of bystander intervention.
Bystander intervention refers to the phenomenon where individuals fail to offer help to a person in need when other people are present. This phenomenon was first observed and studied in the case of Kitty Genovese, a young woman who was murdered in 1964, while 38 people watched but did not intervene.
Social Impact Theory suggests that this phenomenon occurs because of three factors: the strength, immediacy, and number of people present. The strength factor refers to the importance or status of the individual or group. For instance, people tend to conform more readily when they perceive that the person or group has higher status or power.
The immediacy factor refers to the physical proximity between individuals. People are more likely to conform if they are physically close to each other, as it creates a sense of shared responsibility.
Finally, the number factor refers to the number of people present. People are more likely to conform when they perceive that a larger number of people are present, as this creates a diffusion of responsibility.
Using Social Impact Theory, we can see how these factors played out in Kitty Genovese’s case. The witnesses may have felt that their help was unnecessary since so many others were present (number factor), felt less responsible because there were so many witnesses (diffusion of responsibility), and may have been intimidated by their perceived status compared to other witnesses (strength factor).
It’s important to note that Social Impact Theory applies not only to negative behaviors like bystander intervention but also positive behaviors like pro-social behavior where individuals work together for a common goal.
In conclusion, Social Impact Theory is an essential concept in understanding human behavior and group dynamics. By analyzing examples like bystander intervention, we can better understand how individuals conform to social norms and how group behavior affects individual behavior.