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Summary

In the face of discrimination, bad behaviour, evil and abuse, why do good people so often do nothing? 

Every day, we see examples of bad or immoral behaviour – from sexual harassment to political corruption, from negligence to bullying. Why did no one stop the abduction of Jamie Bulger, despite many witnesses reporting they felt uneasy seeing the two-year-old's distress? How did the USA gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, abuse hundreds of young women under his care for so long? Why didn't anyone intervene when David Dao, an innocent 69-year-old man, was forcibly removed from his seat on a United Airlines aeroplane and dragged down the aisle by security officers? How did large crowds of men get away with sexually assaulting an estimated 1,200 women in Cologne during the 2015 New Year's Eve celebrations?

In The Bystander Effect, pioneering psychologist Catherine Sanderson uses real-life examples, neuroscience and the latest psychological studies to explain why we might be good at recognising bad behaviour but bad at taking action against it. With practical strategies to transform your thinking, she shows how we can all learn to speak out, intervene, think outside the group mentality and ultimately become braver versions of ourselves. Courage is not a virtue we're born with. A bystander can learn to be brave.

©2020 Catherine Sanderson (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"In this powerful, well-written book, Catherine Sanderson explains what psychology has taught us about why good people so often do nothing. If you have ever regretted being silent (and who hasn't?) this is the book for you." (Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice)

"Thoughtful and beautifully written. A smart and practical guide to becoming a better and braver version of ourselves." (Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness)

"Catherine Sanderson, like no other psychologist, invades our minds. Her riveting storytelling challenges us to rethink why we avert our eyes to evil, tolerate bullying, and excuse unforgivable workplace behaviour." (Walter V. Robinson, former editor of the Pulitzer-winning Boston Globe team) 

What listeners say about The Bystander Effect

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Really interesting

A lot of this was 'common sense' but it's good to hear all the research and evidence behind the thinking. it introduces some really good concepts surrounding why people do things and the science behind influencing behaviour.

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  • KK
  • 11-02-21

Highly recommended.

Insightful, well researched, interesting, helpful, enjoyable. Didn't take long to read. I'll look for more by the same author.

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Some excellent thoughts

It is well worth your time listening to this book. The ideas caused me to stop and think about my, colleagues and friends behaviours.

I only gave it 4stars, however, as parts of it sounded like a political statement and lacked balance.

Skip those bits and listen to what Catherine has to say.

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A wonderful and interesting book

A really accessable look at the by stander effect, social behaviours and change. Great narration and a hopeful message based on interesting and relevant research. The content is transferable to other aspects of life and work and Catherine has inspired me to reflect and consider how I can learn more and act in a positive way to make changes within the culture I work in and in other aspects of my life such as parenting. I really enjoyed this book.

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Changes your perception

An interesting book on human nature which will no doubt influence your actions in future. A really easy listen and the narrator keeps the story flowing. Full of facts and information on why we may stand by as events occur around and how to tackle and identify our inaction.

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  • H.B.
  • 24-12-20

good book barred the excessive progressive slant

the book is good and full of interesting details and studies. The leftist bias, however, is a tad too pronounced, whether the bias is Sanderson's or simply reflects the mainstream academic climate. A couple guys commenting to themselves about the sexual attractiveness of an unknown woman...that's sexist (not to HER face, but to a friend). Is the girl entering the boy's dorm on her free will, or should we call the police over sexual assault? That's clearly liberal hysteria because we just have no way to know (not that dorm security shouldn't check now and then who comes and goes): she may choose to enter the dorm room now but regret it later, how would we know? The world is full of racists, sexists, wife-batterers and other bugbears of the left, and the crowd is urged to insurge against them...collectivist nonsense because the Nazis, too, looked for excuses to have their crowd insurge, too.