By Payton Weaver

The way individuals are shaped is influenced by a multitude of factor encompassing socialization, upbringing, and genetics. Furthermore, people are inevitably affected by their environment and personal encounters, including their cultural background, community, and socioeconomic status. These various elements play a significant role in determining how individuals perceive and engage with others, sometimes resulting in behaviors like discrimination and the bystander effect.

Let’s Paint the Picture

Discrimination is defined as unjust or prejudicial treatment of an individual or group based on factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Discrimination can take many forms, from subtle microaggressions to outright acts of violence. One reason why discrimination persists is that people tend to categorize others into groups based on visible characteristics such as race or gender. This categorization can lead to stereotypes, which in turn can influence people’s behavior towards members of these groups.

The bystander effect is another phenomenon that can impact how people act. The bystander effect refers to the tendency for individuals to be less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when other people are present. This effect can be attributed to the diffusion of responsibility, where people assume that someone else will take action, and social influence, where people conform to the behavior of others in a group setting.

Roles also play a significant part in how people behave. In many situations, individuals are expected to conform to certain behavioral expectations. For example, in the workplace, there may be expectations about how different genders or races should behave, leading to stereotypes and discrimination. Similarly, social roles can impact how people behave in different situations, such as how people act in a classroom versus at a party.

What Can You Do?

One study found that people’s behavior towards members of different racial groups can be influenced by their level of exposure to diverse individuals. The study found that individuals who had more diverse social networks were less likely to have implicit biases toward other races (Williams & Eberhardt, 2008). Similarly, research has found that increasing awareness about the bystander effect and encouraging individuals to take responsibility for their actions can help to reduce its impact (Darley & Latané, 1968).

To be proactive in these areas, it is important to recognize the ways in which categorization, social roles, and the bystander effect can impact our behavior toward others. One way to combat discrimination is to increase exposure to diverse individuals and challenge stereotypes through education and awareness campaigns. Additionally, taking responsibility for our actions and encouraging others to do the same can help to reduce the impact of the bystander effect.

Conclusively, socialization, upbringing, and genetics are a few of the multitude of factors that influence individual’s experiences. Discrimination, the bystander effect, and social roles can all impact how people behave toward others. To be proactive in these areas, we can increase exposure to diverse individuals, challenge stereotypes, and encourage individuals to take responsibility for their actions. By looking at people as individuals rather than grouping them based on visible characteristics, we can work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society for generations to come.


Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8(4p1), 377–383.
Williams, M. J., & Eberhardt, J. L. (2008). Biological conceptions of race and the motivation to cross racial boundaries. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(6), 1033–1047.
Wright, S. C. (1997). The psychology of social identity. The Psychology Press.