Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Matt Gray

Abstract

Bystander intervention is the decision of a third party to take action in a perceived, ongoing, or completed sexual assault in order to assist the victim. The primary goal of bystander intervention is to prevent sexual victimization before it is perpetrated. Research has explored how perceptions of community expectations can alter rape myth acceptance (RMA). This research indicates that RMA can be malleable if the perceived RMA of one’s community is higher or lower, at least temporarily. RMA can function as a social norm. The aim of this study is to evaluate the degree to which an individual’s perceptions of community support influences their 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 that perceptions of such behavior as uncommon, will decrease one’s intent to intervene. Participants (N=81) were asked to fill 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 perceived community support, or high perceived community support. Results showed trends, in regards to bystander efficacy, 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. There were trends to indicate more feelings of responsibility and need for awareness in the two experimental groups.

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