Diffusion of responsibility is a psychological phenomenon in which people are less likely to take action or feel a sense of responsibility in the presence of a large group of people. Essentially, in a large group of people, people may feel that individual responsibility to intervene is lessened because it is shared by all of the onlookers.
Diffusion of responsibility is often used to explain the bystander effect, a phenomenon in which the greater the number of people present, the less likely people are to help an individual in distress. For example, imagine that you are in a large city on a bustling street. You notice a young man fall to the ground and start convulsing as if having a seizure. Many people turn and look at the man, but no one moves to help or call for medical assistance. Why? Because there are so many people present, no one individual feels pressured to respond. Each person might think, "Oh, someone else has probably already called for help" or "No one else is doing anything, so it must not be that serious."
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