Kitty Genovese Revisited

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Earlier this week in my Intro Psych course, we were knee-deep in the social psych chapter when a student asked about Kitty Genovese. The standard story reported in most Intro Psych textbooks turns out to be not quite the whole story. While we know that the bystander effect exists and we know what factors increase the likelihood of the bystander effect occurring, there's much more to Genovese's murder than 38 uncaring people. I took a deep breath and gave some context to the tale that has become a part of our cultural consciousness.

To expand your own background I recommend starting with the Manning, Levine, and Collins September, 2007 American Psychologist article, The Kitty Genovese murder and the social psychology of helping: The parable of the 38 witnesses.

For a deeper exploration of what happened that night in 1964, check out Kevin Cook's 2014 book Kitty Genovese: The murder, the bystanders, the crime that changed America. If the social psych chapter is coming up faster than you can read, take an hour and watch his 2014 book talk at the Kansas City Public Library.

Video Link : 1560

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About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology since 1992. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed. and is co-author with Charles Stangor on Introduction to Psychology, 4.0.