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Gender Differences in Attitudes and Beliefs Associated With Bystander Behavior and Sexual Assault

Amar, Angela F. PhD, RN, FAAN1; Sutherland, Melissa PhD, FN-BC2; Laughon, Kathryn PhD, RN, FAAN3

doi: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000024
Original Articles

ABSTRACT Sexual violence is a significant problem on many college campuses. Bystander education programs have been found to train individuals to act to prevent sexual and partner violence and improve the responses of peers to survivors. Limited evidence suggests that gender differences exist between males and females regarding both attitudes toward, and use of, bystander behavior, with females reporting more supportive attitudes and greater use of bystander behavior. The purpose of this study is to compare male and female college students on attitudes toward date rape, bystander efficacy, intention to act as a bystander, and actual use of bystander behaviors. A secondary aim explored gender differences in theoretically driven bystander behaviors and barriers to acting as a bystander. A convenience sample of 157 full-time undergraduate students aged 18–24 years completed survey measures of attitudes related to sexual and partner violence and willingness to help. Analysis of variance and chi-square were used to compare gender differences in scores. Significant gender differences were found for date rape attitudes, efficacy, and intention to act as a positive bystander. Men reported more rape-supportive attitudes and greater intention to act as a bystander than women, whereas women reported greater levels of bystander efficacy than men. The findings can be used in tailoring gender-specific components of bystander education programs for sexual assault prevention and intervention.

Author Affiliations: 1Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University; 2William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College; and 3College of Nursing, University of Virginia.

This work was funded in part by a Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholar Grant No. 64204.

The authors and planners have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

Correspondence: Angela F. Amar, PhD, RN, FAAN, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, 1520 Clifton Road, Room 328, Atlanta, GA 30322. E-mail:

Received December 17, 2013; accepted for publication March 19, 2014.

© 2014 by the International Association of Forensic Nurses. All rights reserved.
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