Analysis This is a wonderful article by Carol Tavris that unveils a very important aspect of human behavior and psychology that shows up in a group setting known as “diffusion of responsibility”. I fully consent with the author that being part of a group or just being present in a group setting fundamentally changes an individual’s behavior and one tends to submit oneself to the group norms…
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I am proud to be part of that minority. I have been through plentiful experiences in my own life in which I have experienced the phenomenon of “diffusion of responsibility” in the people’s behavior. I have myself displayed this kind of behavior over a few occasions early in my life. However, it was a very bad feeling that I carried with myself later on when I reflected back on those experiences. I felt like guilty for not having done something about those incidents while I could. Probably, it was the very realization that changed my behavior towards such incidents for the better, so that now, when I am part of a group, and something odd happens in front of me, my response to the situation is hardly any different from what it would have been had I been alone. During my childhood, I saw a little puppy with a broken and bleeding leg limping an moaning aside the road. It had probably been caught in some accident and was bleeding badly. Just from the look of it, I felt so pity for the little puppy. I wish somebody could take care of that, and I actually waited for that to happen. At that time, I was holding my mother’s hand, waiting to cross the road to reach the school. I was in a hurry anyway, though I have not been able to convince myself ever since that I could not spare a minute or two for the puppy. I saw people seeing that puppy, pointing their fingers at it, and passing by as they watched it. The image of that bleeding puppy was carved in my memory, and I felt bad about not doing anything about that. Probably, only if I had washed its leg with the water in my bottle and wrapped my handkerchief around its leg, I would have felt satisfied. While I always regretted not doing anything in this particular incident, this reflection and realization did change my behavior positively. Few days ago, I noticed two people fighting with each other. One of them had bumped his car into the other’s and the other person’s car was severely damaged. He had got out of his senses, and had immediately got into a violent verbal fight with him, that was at the verge of transforming into the physical fight, but I intervened. At the location, about fifty people had gathered in no time to observe the matter and had been standing there watching the heated verbal argument like a circus game. As soon as I caught glimpse of the sight, I instantly knew what feeling was holding them back and what I needed to do about it. I stepped ahead and came in between the two of them. One of them was holding a brick and was just about to throw it over the other person. I instantly took the brick from him, and tried to calm him down. Meanwhile, other people also started to approach and intervene. Probably, they were waiting for someone to take the initiative. I do not doubt their feelings of sympathy and humbleness, but it was certainly the “diffusion of responsibility” that was holding them back, as Tavris says in the article; “Most people do not behave badly because they are inherently bad. They behave badly because they aren't paying attention, or they leave it to Harry, or they don't want to rock the boat, or they don't want to embarrass themselves or others if they're wrong” (Tavris). However, “diffusion of responsibility” is not the only factor that holds people back in such situations. A
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