Natural selection and the bystander effect

Faculty Member

Sara Clifton

Project Image

The bystander effect is a sociological phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to help a person in distress if there are others present. Sociologists have proposed multiple plausible reasons for the bystander effect, from ambiguity and group cohesiveness to diffusion of responsibility and mutual denial. We will build an evolutionary dynamics model based on these sociological hypotheses. With this model, we will attempt to understand the evolutionary conditions under which a bystander effect will emerge. This project may involve evolutionary game theory, ordinary and/or partial differential equations, and agent-based modeling (but no previous experience is necessary).

Team Meetings


Project Difficulty


Undergrad Prerequisites

Coding experience (preferably in Matlab or Python) required. Experience with differential equations recommended but not required.