Likelihood of Bystander Intervention as a Function of a Social Norms

Hatten, Shelby
Bystander intervention is the decision of a third party to take action in a perceived, ongoing, or completed sexual assault to assist the victim. The primary goal of bystander intervention is to prevent sexual victimization before it is perpetrated. Research demonstrates how perceptions of community expectations can alter rape myth acceptance (RMA). RMA can be malleable if the community's perception of RMA is higher or lower, at least temporarily. RMA can function as a social norm. This study evaluates the degree to which an individual's perceptions of community support influences willingness to intervene in potential assault situations. It is expected that individuals' perceptions of bystander behavior as normative will increase self-reported willingness to intervene, and perceptions of such behavior as uncommon, will decrease one's intent to intervene. Participants (N=81) filled out two surveys assessing willingness to help and efficacy to help in a hypothetical sexual assault situation. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: control group, low community support, or high community support. Trends in bystander efficacy demonstrated that higher levels of perceived community support lead to higher self-reported efficacy. This also held true for lower levels. Readiness to help was divided into three subscales (action, responsibility, and no awareness). The different conditions had no effect on action. Trends indicate feelings of responsibility and need for awareness in the two experimental groups.
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