College Students as Helpful Bystanders Against Sexual Violence: Gender, Race, and Year in College Moderate the Impact of Perceived Peer Norms.


Prior research documents that perceived peer norms are related to bystanders’ intentions and intervention behaviors in the context of sexual violence. Given the popularity of bystander intervention programming, it is important to know if variables like gender, race, or year in college impact intervention attitudes/behaviors or interact with perceived peer norms. Also relatively unexplored is the question of missed opportunities for intervention. For our final sample of 232 college students (66% female, 36% Black), screened by age, race, and missing data from an initial pool of 315 respondents, perceived peer norms supporting intervention positively predicted willingness to intervene against sexual violence (bystander intentions) but did not independently predict bystander behaviors or missed opportunities for intervention. Although women reported greater bystander intentions than did men, and Black participants reported more bystander behaviors than did White participants, gender, race, and year in college often interacted with peer norms and with each other in complex ways. Specifically, the predicted positive relationship between peer norms and bystander behaviors was observed only among Black students in at least their second year of college, and the predicted negative relationship between peer norms and missed opportunities was observed only for Black men. These nuances in factors that influence bystander actions have important implications for tailoring prevention tools on college campuses.


Psychology, Prevention Innovations Research Center Pubs

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Psychology of Women Quarterly


Sage Publications

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