Do Sexual Assault Bystander Interventions Change Men's Intentions? Applying the Theory of Normative Social Behavior to Predicting Bystander Outcomes

Amanda Mabry, Monique Mitchell Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The high prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses has led to the implementation of health communication programs to prevent sexual assault. A few novel programs focus on primary prevention by targeting social norms related to gender and masculinity among men through bystander intervention. Guided by the theory of normative social behavior, this study sought to examine the relative effect of campaigns communicating positive versus negative injunctive norms and the interaction between exposure to such campaign messages and perceived descriptive norms and relevant cognitive moderators (e.g., outcome expectations, injunctive norms, group identity, ego involvement) among men. A 2 (high/low descriptive norms) × 2 (high/low moderator) × 3 (public service announcement) independent groups quasi-experimental design (N = 332) was used. Results indicated that messages communicating positive injunctive norms were most effective among men who were least likely to engage in bystander intervention. Furthermore, descriptive norms played a significant role in behavioral intentions, such that those with stronger norms were more likely to report intentions to engage in bystander behaviors in the future. Similarly, the moderators of aspiration, injunctive norms, social approval, and ego involvement had a significant positive effect on behavioral intentions. These findings have important implications for future message design strategy and audience segmentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-292
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 3 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences

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