IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Global Bystander Non-intervention: Cross-Level Insights on Cross-National Helping


  • Pittinsky, Todd L.

    (Harvard U)

  • Matic, Tina


Why don't people in rich nations do more to help people in poor nations? Large disparities in material well-being across the globe are sobering. Nearly 800 million people do not get enough food, leaving nearly one third of the world's children malnourished (United Nations Development Programme, 1999). Equally sobering are the relatively low rates of helping on the part of governments and individuals in the world's wealthy countries. The developed world repeatedly fails to hit aid targets, giving on average only a third of the goals (United Nations Statistics Division, 2003). A large body of psychological research has addressed bystander non-intervention. In this paper, a cross-level review, we frame the scientific study of the phenomenon of a low level of cross-national helping as a form of bystander non-intervention: global bystander non-intervention. We review and conceptually analyze the work done on bystander non-intervention, identify the mechanisms that inhibit helping, and examine their applicability to understanding and promoting helping across national groups. The promises and limitations of the work to date are examined. In this way, a large body of psychological literature is leveraged to catalyze research and theory towards cross-national helping in a world of great disparity in material well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Pittinsky, Todd L. & Matic, Tina, 2005. "Global Bystander Non-intervention: Cross-Level Insights on Cross-National Helping," Working Paper Series rwp05-006, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp05-006

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jody Hoffer Gittell & Leigh Weiss, 2004. "Coordination Networks Within and Across Organizations: A Multi-level Framework," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 127-153, January.
    2. Alesina, Alberto & Dollar, David, 2000. "Who Gives Foreign Aid to Whom and Why?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 33-63, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp05-006. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.