“When people are in a group…responsibility for acting is diffused. They assume that someone else will make the call, or they assume that because no one else is acting, the apparent problem – is really not a problem.”
– Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point
I was chatting to Keith Malone yesterday and he mentioned in passing something that I later realized had sort of perturbed me. His observation was this: That it’s often the brides with the most bridesmaids who find themselves alone and unaided on their big day.
I have four bridesmaids. This is a direct result of Rohan’s decision to have four groomsmen (he clearly subscribes to the strength-in-numbers school of thought on the matter). I’ve assembled a crack team of former brides, event managers, quirkmeisters and all-round helpful individuals. These girls were my friends already, I swear!
But will they still be my friends after (ok, joking). Will their skills and strengths all fall foul of this bystander effect that Malcolm Gladwell – amongst others – has identified?
Diffusion of responsibility is a social phenomenon which tends to occur in groups of people above a certain critical size when responsibility is not explicitly assigned.
I used to have a boss who loved explicitly assigning responsibility, or delegating as she called it. Is that what it takes to motivate your bridesmaids away from the bar/buffet/cute cousin from the other side of the family? It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil, so should all brides be bridezillas? Or should brides write a bridesmaid manifesto?
I have no doubt that my bridesmaids will be there for me on the day – whether I turn out to be a brideszilla or not. But it’s interesting theory Malcolm. So come on Karen, Katie, Siobhán and Bróna, let’s prove him wrong on this one.
Used with permission -
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