Why do we ignore bad behaviour?

One thing Sanderson says we all must nurture, and build in ourselves is the ability to overcome social awkwardness. Time and time again, she notes how social pressures facilitate inaction. Put simply: if we are around others, we base how we act on how they’re acting. Many of us might avoid speaking out for fear that we’ve misjudged a situation – after all, if it really was that bad, wouldn’t others be speaking up, too? Psychologists call these worries “evaluation apprehension”. We’re concerned we’ll look stupid or sensitive or strange if we speak out. Sanderson notes that people find it easier to intervene if they are less concerned about fitting in, yet also notes those who are worried about fitting in feel social ostracisation more strongly. The neuroscience shows that for these people, rejection feels like physical pain – “as if you’ve twisted your ankle or burned yourself with coffee”.