Episode 24: Bystanders Affected

Every year anxious freshmen shuffle into lecture halls for intro to psychology courses, they’ll learn names like Freud, Jung, Skinner, James and Piaget. Without a doubt, they’ll learn the name Kitty Genovese along with those. Unlike the others on that list, Kitty never planned on being incorporated in the textbooks and PowerPoint presentations (had any of them known what PowerPoint was). She was murdered in New York City in 1964 by a violent serial offender. Her story is robbed of its complexity and reduced to a parable, used to illustrate the perils of urban apathy. The concept is largely responsible for pioneering the study of the bystander effect. There were real-word, long lasting, far-reaching consequences, as well. The idea that 38 of Kitty’s neighbors watched from their windows as she was attacked without bothering to phone for help haunted policy makers and scholars of human behavior, as well as people who read about in it newspapers all across the country for decades. But is it just a story? This week we take a look at the legend of urban apathy and get to know the dynamic, brave woman behind the notes in your psych 101 notebook. Join us as we explore the urban legend of the murder of Kitty Genovese.


Listen on iTunes


The Witness – Documentary Made by Kitty Genovese’s brother; Trailer

The New Yorker – A Call For Help: What the Kitty Genovese Story Really Means

Fifty Years After Kitty Genovese: Inside the Case that Rocked Our Faith in Each Other By Albert A. Seedman, Peter Hellman

New York Times – 37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police

From Kitty Genovese’s Brother: ‘The Final Chapter’- New York Times

Kitty Genovese and the Village

Anniversary of a Lesbian Murder Kitty Genovese: America’s Lost Victim – Curve

How the False Story of Kitty Genovese’s Murder Went Viral – New York Magazine


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