The Effects of Exposure to Consequences of Bystander Intervention on Intentions to Intervene in Intimate Partner Violence Situations
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Widespread acts of violence within romantic relationships have created a worldwide public health epidemic, with approximately one in three women reporting having experienced either physical or sexual violence by their partners in their lifetime. College students also report experiencing high rates of intimate partner violence on college campuses. Previous studies suggest that bystander intervention is extremely effective at reducing campus violence as it promotes a community response to violence. However, ways to increase bystander intervention is needed. Entertainment-education (EE) is one strategy that could prove useful. Despite its proven effectiveness to promote attitude and behavior change, it is unclear how one important mechanism of EE works. EE programs use rewards and punishment of prosocial attitudes and behaviors to increase motivation to adopt those behaviors. However, research is yet to examine the effects on viewers’ intentions to intervene in situations of intimate partner violence. The purpose of the study was to investigate these effects on viewers’ attitudes, normative and self-efficacy perceptions, in addition to their intentions to intervene. This study also investigated the role identification with key characters in EE messages play in predicting prosocial attitudes and intentions. An online pre-posttest experiment was conducted in which participants (n=424) completed the pretest, watched three short videos in each experimental condition and then answered the posttest measures. Results indicate that mere exposure to consequences of bystander intervention was not a strong motivating factor. However, gender was a significant factor. Women exhibited lower rape myth acceptance, higher intentions to intervene, and more positive normative and self-efficacy perceptions. Results also indicate that identification with bystanders was a strong predictor of prosocial attitudes. The results suggest that EE messages aimed at increasing motivation through bystander education should consider multiple motivational factors. Finally, the results demonstrate that gender differences are important factors when developing messages for health-based interventions related to romantic and sexual relationships.