Georgia State Psychologists Identify Best Strategies for Bystander Intervention Against Sexual Misconduct

A new study by led by psychologists at Georgia State University in Atlanta finds that young men can successfully intervene in peer groups to prevent sexual violence against women if they appeal to a shared sense of morality.

“There’s a new focus, especially on college campuses, on studying bystander intervention in preventing sexual violence,” said psychology professor Dominic Parrott, director of Georgia State’s Center for Research on Interpersonal Violence. “This was a chance to see what people do to intervene and what actually works.”

In the study, pairs of young men who were friends were given the opportunity to discuss whether to show sexually explicit images to a young woman who did not wish to see the images. The researchers then observed how some of the men were able to persuade their peer to refrain from showing the offensive images.

Their findings indicate that men who had confidence in their ability to intervene tended to make statements that recognized the young woman’s wishes and appealed to a shared sense of morality. These statements were critical to the young men’s ability to convince their friend to refrain from showing the offensive images, the researchers found.

“The implication,” Dr. Parrott said, “is if you are in a situation and you see something happening, whether it is misogynistic joke or talking about a woman who is not there in a disrespectful way to something very overt, an effective way to defuse the situation is to make salient that morally this isn’t right.”

The research entitled, “Speak Up! Prosocial Intervention Verbalizations Predict Successful Bystander Intervention for a Laboratory Analogue of Sexual Aggression,” was published on the website of the journal Sexual Abuse. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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