Sue Frantz

Kitty Genovese Revisited

Blog Post created by Sue Frantz on Mar 11, 2016

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.