The case of Catherine ‘Kitty’ Genovese

Good evening readers!

I have just started a free OU course called Forensic Psychology – Witness Investigation. The aim of the course as a whole is to try to use forensic psychology techniques to solve a fictitious crime over the course of a few weeks. The clues are released gradually week by week so it’s important to not reveal too much information to others doing the course.

This week focused on eyewitness psychology. One of the exercises this week involved following the investigation of an armed robbery and determine which pieces of information are reliable. One thing I found interesting in the first week of the course is the reactions of bystanders to crimes they witness. This was demonstrated through the case of Catherine Genovese.

Ms Genovese was an American woman who was murdered outside her apartment block in the New York district of Queens in 1964. This doesn’t appear remarkable at face value but what is unusual is that about a dozen of the neighbours were aware of the attack while it was taking place but did nothing to help Genovese. This case led to further research into teh ‘bystander effect’. This describes the psychological phenomena that in large groups of witnesses it is less likely that one person will intervene. There are three possible explanations for this. Firstly, onlookers may be unsure of helping while others are watching. Secondly, they may feel others are better able to help. Lastly, they may simply not help because they see that nobody else is helping. I find this all intriguing.

I am really looking forward to the next week of the course. I’ll let you know how I get on.



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