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'Bystander Effect' Apparent in Lululemon Case | News

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'Bystander Effect' Apparent in Lululemon Case
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ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA) -- Screaming and violent banging during the murder of Jayna Murray inside the Lululemon Athletica store in Bethesda March 11 may have been overheard by witnesses in a neighboring shop and ignored, prosecutors told a jury this week.

It may be yet another example of a well known psychological phenomena called the "bystander effect", according to Washington psychiatrist Dr. Alen Salerian, who says humans are hardwired in the deepest recesses of the brain to avoid involvement.

"In many ways, it repeats animal behavior that most animals when they see danger they stay away from it," Salerian said.  "The human beings, when they were witnessing the noises, were not in the state of mind for risk taking," Salerian believes.

The "bystander effect" has been the subject of numerous psychological studies since the 1964 rape and murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, NYWitnesses ignored her cries for help.

Salerian says it's nearly impossible for individuals to predict how they will react until they are put in the situation.  But he says it is highly likely that any individual will have to suppress the immediate instinct not to get involved.

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