Episode 36: Kitty Genovese: What Really Happened?

Kitty GenoveseImage via Wikipedia

Kitty Genovese: what you know about what happened to her is wrong.

Kitty Genovese was repeatedly attacked while others watched and did nothing – right?


While the story lead to a long and successful line of research in the area of bystander intervention and diffusion of responsibility, the facts of the story are incorrect.

What are the facts behind the Kitty Genovese case and if groups are so unlikely to help, how do you explain how people came together to help at 911? Let’s take another look at the legacy of this famous story in this episode.

Resources For This Podcast

  • Here’s a link to the homepage of the American Psychologist journal. The article of interest is called “The Kitty Genovese Murder and the Social Psychology of Helping: The Parable of the 38 Witneses” by Rachel Manning, Mark Levine, and Alan Collins. You’ll need to get the article from your library however, as it is not available online.

  • Good book on bullying – but with a focus on how to help bystanders to get involved: The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to HighSchool–How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle (Updated Edition)

  • Here’s a video showing how the “smoke under the door” scenario results in a lack of helping:

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