Episode 36: Kitty Genovese: What Really Happened?

MichaelSocial Psychology7 Comments


Kitty Genovese: what you know about what happened to her is wrong.

Kitty Genovese was repeatedly attacked while others watched and did nothing – right?


While the story lead to a long and successful line of research in the area of bystander intervention and diffusion of responsibility, the facts of the story are incorrect.

What are the facts behind the Kitty Genovese case and if groups are so unlikely to help, how do you explain how people came together to help at 911? Let’s take another look at the legacy of this famous story in this episode.


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7 Comments on “Episode 36: Kitty Genovese: What Really Happened?”

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  5. Hi Michael,

    I was listening to an audio version of Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence – Science and Practice’ this morning, in which he discussed the case of Kitty Genovese. It sparked a memory of this episode for me and I returned to your website to revisit it. I remember it being a fascinating episode, which shocked me, almost as much as the truth about ‘Little Albert’ in episode #47.

    I found the Manning, Levine & Collins article publicly available here – http://www.grignoux.be/dossiers/288/pdf/manning_et_alii.pdf

    I also came across this interesting piece by Catherine Pelonero, the author of a relatively recent book on the subject, in which she criticises ’21st Century revisionism’ of the murder. http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/truth-kitty-genovese-article-1.1706942

    She is quite forthright in her view ‘Their new-and-improved, it-really-wasn’t-so-bad-after-all version is based on a stubborn insistence that the original account was a myth invented by an overzealous reporter.’

    I haven’t read her book, so I can’t really comment on its content, but it might be of interest to you for a potential future episode?

    All the best,

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