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You see but you do not observe: A review of bystander intervention and sexual assault on university campuses

Labhardt, Danielle and Holdsworth, Emma and Brown, Sarah and Howat, Douglas (2017) You see but you do not observe: A review of bystander intervention and sexual assault on university campuses. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 35. pp. 13-25. ISSN 1359-1789

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Abstract

Sexual assault on university campuses has garnered increased attention in recent years. A systematic review was conducted to identify the factors associated with bystander intervention regarding sexual assault on university campuses. Currently, no published systematic reviews exist within this area. Twenty-eight studies were reviewed according to four major bystander factors: rape myth and date rape attitudes; bystander efficacy; bystander intent; and bystander behavior. There was a heavy emphasis on bystander intent and behavior throughout. Three important limitations were identified: (1) all empirical research has been conducted in the USA, yet bystander intervention programs exist outside of the USA, in countries such as the UK, (2) a majority of the studies employed quantitative methodologies and so failed to capture important details such as bystanders' perceptions of sexual assault or what other factors influence the likelihood of intervening, and (3) there were limited attempts to control for factors such as social desirability. This area of research is still in its infancy. Future research should examine in greater detail the factors inhibiting and facilitating bystander intervention. Finally, research outside of the USA is important in developing the literature in this area to effectively inform bystander intervention programs.

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