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Who Will Be a Bystander? An Exploratory Study of First-Person Perception Effects on Campus Bystander Behavioral Intentions

  • Laura M. Mercer KollarEmail author
  • Lulu Peng
  • Katie A. Ports
  • Lijiang Shen
Original Article

Abstract

The purpose was to explore the underlying mechanisms that drive relationships between knowledge, attitudes and intervening bystander behavior to improve bystander violence prevention program effectiveness. Perceptual effects theory was used to understand third-person and first-person perceptions (TPP and FPP) as related to bystander intervention programs and to what extent perceptual gaps influence one’s intention to intervene. A web-based survey was conducted with 379 undergraduate students recruited from a large, Northeastern University. The survey covered demographics, previous bystander training, self-efficacy to engage in bystander behavior, social desirability of bystander intervention training programs, and perceived effects on self and others. Participants indicated how they would act in six hypothetical dating violence/bullying and sexual violence scenarios, and how they thought an average student on campus would act. Perceived ambiguity and risk for each of the scenarios were also measured. Descriptive statistics, paired-sample t-tests, and multilevel model analyses were conducted. Results showed that a robust first-person perception effect existed (i.e., the student perceived themselves being more influenced by bystander interventions/messages than their peers). The magnitude of FPP was increased by sex (significantly larger gap among female students) and previous training. Results show promise to further tailor and refine bystander interventions and provide directions to improve program effectiveness. Despite study limitations, the results indicate the first-person effect warrants further consideration for programming and messaging. Tailoring bystander training or repeated exposure may increase bystander behaviors. More research is needed to fully uncover TPP/FPP effects, predictors, and impacts on bystander intervention programs.

Keywords

Bystander intervention Third-person effect First-person effect Intention to intervene 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Disclaimer

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply  2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence PreventionAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.College of the Liberal Arts, Department of Communication Arts and SciencesPennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA

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