University student attitudes to prosocial bystander behaviours

Hennelly, Sarah and Hussain, Sofia and Hale, Tristan and Cadle, Martha and Brooke, Joanne and Davies, Emma (2019) University student attitudes to prosocial bystander behaviours. Health Education, 119 (5/6). pp. 408-424. ISSN 0965-4283

Hennelly et al 2019 ACCEPTED VERSION.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (1MB)


Purpose: Half of British university students experience assault and harassment behaviours; few report them. Bystander intervention training has been recommended as a means of reducing these behaviours, but there is little evidence about their potential effectiveness in UK contexts. This study sought to understand UK students’ attitudes towards reporting and intervening in sexual assault, harassment, and hate crimes.
Design: A mixed methods cross sectional survey (N=201; 75.6% women) was conducted in one British university. Open text data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Findings: Students considered harassment and assault unacceptable, and were confident to intervene in and likely to report incidents. However, fear of backlash was a barrier to intervening and reporting, and they felt that victims should decide whether to report incidents. Students perceived perpetrators as being ignorant about what constitutes consent, harassment, and assault. They identified a need for university community education about this and how to report incidents and support peers.
Research limitations/implications: This cross sectional survey was conducted at one UK University. The data might not reflect other students’ attitudes, and may be subject to response bias.
Practical implications: University community bystander training should be acceptable, report and support systems might be utilised by students. This may have potential to reduce prevalence and increase reporting.
Originality: This is the first study to investigate UK student attitudes to prosocial bystander behaviours.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
5 July 2019Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: universities, education, attitudes, racism, sexual behaviour, social interventions
Subjects: CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-01 - psychology (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Joanne Brooke
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2019 07:53
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 15:37

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


In this section...