Bloomberg Anywhere Remote Login Bloomberg Terminal Demo Request


Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.


Financial Products

Enterprise Products


Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000


Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Bloomberg Customers

EU Is Victim of Bystander Syndrome

Posted by: Ben Vickers on November 11, 2011


Are our politicians all victims of the bystander effect? Have we largely succumbed like people in an emergency situation who stand by as if waiting for someone else to resolve it?

Social psychologists have documented the bystander effect many times. It is also known as the Genovese syndrome, after the case of a New York woman who was stabbed outside her apartment in 1964 - her cries were supposedly heard by neighbors, who didn’t alert police.

There is a parallel case to be drawn with events such as the European crisis, where, with the benefit of hindsight, it is mystifying why politicians, regulators and bankers didn’t react earlier to prevent events getting out of hand.

In a series of classic psychology studies, Bibb Latane and John Darley determined that the amount of time it takes someone to take action and seek help in an emergency varies depending on how many other observers are in the same place. The more people there are, the longer it takes them to raise the alarm or react in any way.

The symptoms of the bystander effect are a diffusion of responsibility, as people expect others to take charge, and pressure not to step out of socially accepted patterns of behavior. Does this seem familiar?

The European Union and its institutions, with responsibilities shared between national governments and centralized authorities along lines that are continually evolving, lends itself to a large bystander effect. The solution is what European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was referring to on Wednesday when he called for “more Europe” in a speech in Germany. The EU will have to “unite or face irrelevance,” he said. Stronger central EU institutions are the key to avoiding a repetition of Europe’s problems.

Reader Comments

Alex Ruso

November 11, 2011 4:15 PM

The bystander situation inherent throughout Europe today is confounded by an abyss of incomprehension. In addition to the financial troubles we face, we are confronted by the very threatening and rather incoherent voices from Brussels warning us that if the EZ breaks up, the EU (and to some extent, the world) is doomed. Sure, it seems most of us, citizens, are willing to accept that as a plausible outcome. The problem is that we have no one unified authority in this Union to lead us in any direction, no central communications program that might clarify policy choices, no real belief in the system as a whole beyond the fear of seeing it disappear… Increasingly, if the EU manages to remain unified, we need to address this central problem of lack of communication, and create something the people of europe can believe in because without that, we may manage somehow to cross this hurdle in EU history, but the people will eventually decide to look toward a more viable option for them, one they can understand, relate to and believe in, that of a sovereign state unburdened (to an extent) by the complexities and vaguenesses (and pompous euro-talk) that come with the EU package.

César H. Dellamea

November 11, 2011 5:42 PM

It´s clear: shared responsibility is no one responsibility at all.

Firozali A.Mulla DBA

November 16, 2011 3:58 AM

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 11:27 AM
What do we have today? 1 Rushdie is scared again?
2 This from my friend in UK no names for now.
Osborne wants oil; I'm so fed up of this idiot government. What planet do they live on? How on earth do they think people can keep handing over money all the time when wages aren't increasing, people are out of work. They still expect money to be pulled out of nowhere. If the country needs to clear its debts surely that should be priority, its funny how the government plead poverty and enforce cuts one minute, but still have money to fund aid and war in other countries. Its disgraceful! When Labour was in government and fuel cost considerably less than it does now, the Conservative press campaigned against high pump prices and the Conservative voting farmers and hauliers were out blockading our motorways and oil refineries. Cynically now they are in office its oh so different, they're considering taking fuel duty to its highest ever level, what a bunch of two-faced jokers do not understand the oil market and refuse to comment on this. If UK etc want to come to African states and get the cane squeezed to get the oil, I have no idea how these small sates will survive or we let them die? I thank You Britain has been warned by a senior ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel that it would not "get away with" looking after its own interests at the expense of Europe. We have the lady talking to UK politicians. Volker Kauder criticised the coalition Government's opposition to a financial transaction tax, insisting the UK had responsibility for "making Europe a success”. His comments will ratchet up tensions between London and Berlin ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister David Cameron and Mrs Merkel on Friday. The encampment is gone, but the movement lives on still. What nobody knows is just how long it can survive without a literal place to call home. This land is my land For Occupy Wall Street, Zuccotti Park was a rallying cry — a symbol of defiance against a government and a society that the protesters wanted to overthrow. But in recent weeks, the park itself unwittingly morphed into a mirror image of the world it was trying to change: a microcosm of society rife with crime, drug problems and fights over things like real estate and access to medical care. I say then of course I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA

Firozali A.Mulla DBA

November 17, 2011 6:42 AM

Thursday, 17 November 2011 2:28:48 PM Let us read what we have this noon. Having announced yesterday that it was planning to take up legal action against Occupy London once again, the City of London Corporation has now officially served the camping protesters with eviction notices. According to Sky News (via Twitter) the corporation attached eviction notices to the tents outside St Paul's cathedral today, as it said it planned to in a statement yesterday. The outlook for the British economy has worsened because of slowing global demand, sagging confidence and turmoil in the eurozone, the Bank of England said Wednesday as new data showed unemployment rising to the highest rate in 15 years. "Britain also carries responsibility for making Europe a success. Only being after their own benefit and refusing to contribute is not the message we’re letting the British get away with." This is from Germany???? Tush tush. Germany Tells Britain To Suck It Up And Help The Eurozone. Tush Tuish
I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA TUSH tush


January 19, 2012 12:09 AM

you love this? , for special offer for more detail


January 19, 2012 1:51 AM

you definitely love , just clicks away for more


January 20, 2012 3:25 PM


January 21, 2012 4:30 AM


January 24, 2012 5:49 AM


January 29, 2012 7:27 AM


February 5, 2012 3:02 AM


February 7, 2012 9:23 PM


March 16, 2012 12:26 PM


March 16, 2012 10:24 PM


March 26, 2012 12:57 AM

Post a comment


BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!