This issue takes a provocative look at "the psychology of the bystander": What is it that induces some people to come to the aid of others in distress, while other people do nothing? Scientists have considered this question for years. Now Greater Good examines the fruits of their research and applies it to contemporary ethical issues concerning:

  • Education — How can we teach kids to stick up for peers who are bullied, rather than remaining passive spectators?
  • Journalism — When should reporters intervene in the stories they cover, and when should they not?
  • War — What can we learn from stories of people who demonstrate great "civil courage," risking their lives to save others during wartime?
  • Plus — An interview with Philip Gourevitch about why nations do or don’t intervene in foreign conflicts.
  • An essay by famed psychologist Philip Zimbardo — 35 years after his Stanford Prison Experiment revealed the banality of evil, Zimbardo and co-author Zeno Franco explore "The Banality of Heroism
  • "Idea for the Greater Good" (pdf download) by best-selling author Daniel Goleman
  • A photo essay a powerful piece from New Orleans Times-Picayune photographer Ted Jackson.

Go to For daily updates on the science of altruism and compassion, visit the new Greater Good blog.