Intention vs. Intervention: Analyzing the Effectiveness of a University Bystander Intervention Program

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McKnight, Bethany A.
Washburn University
Department of Psychology
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Sexual assault rates on college campuses have remained relatively unchanged in the last several decades. The creation of sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention programs was warranted in an attempt to reduce sexual assault prevalence and foster a safer campus environment for all. Most bystander intervention programs are evaluated for efficacy through the use of self-report measures (Katz & Moore, 2013). The present study utilized not only self-report measures, but also evaluated student behaviors in a novel online format. A total of three vignettes were created depicting sexual harassment scenarios of various severity (i.e., low, high, and neutral). Participants completed self-report measures before the implementation of the BODstander program and after the behavioral evaluation post-training. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a sexual harassment vignette told to be from “another participant” in the study. Student behaviors were evaluated using two independent coders using definitions of reactive bystander strategies taught in the BODstander program. Some results were inconsistent with the current literature and hypotheses, where student self-efficacy and intention to engage in proactive bystander opportunities decreased at post-test while remaining intention to intervene scores were unchanged at post-test; however, self-reported bystander behaviors appeared to increase at post-test. In addition, participants who engaged in BODstander programming intervened more often when presented both high and low severity harassment scenarios. Results can be used to further evaluate the effectiveness of the BODstander program in its current form, argue effectiveness in eliciting increased intervention behaviors post-training, and inform potential improvement to the program itself.