Variation in bystander behavior related to sexual and intimate partner violence prevention: Correlates in a sample of college students


Innovations in violence prevention mobilize peers as active bystanders, yet little is known about what motivates helping in such contexts. We examined correlates of actual helpful behavior (rather than only attitudes) related to the prevention of sexual and intimate partner violence among college students at one university in the United States. Four hundred and six (406) undergraduate students at the University of New Hampshire completed self-report surveys. We assessed attitudes (e.g., rape myth acceptance, bystander confidence) in relation to self-reported helping behavior. Different predictors were significant for the self-report measures of attitude compared to behaviors. Students who self-reported a greater sense of responsibility for ending sexual and relationship violence and greater expressed confidence as a bystander and perceptions of greater benefits of stepping in to help, self-reported greater helping behavior. We found some differences in correlates of helping behavior by type of helping behavior. Correlates of helping differ when actual behaviors performed in the community compared to attitudes were assessed. Prevention strategies that increase community members' sense of responsibility for ending violence, build confidence in helping, and support norms that encourage active bystanders are needed to increase helping behavior to ameliorate this widespread community problem.


Psychology, Prevention Innovations Research Center Pubs

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Psychology of Violence


American Psychological Association

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