Readiness to Help: How Students' Sexual Assault Awareness, Responsibility, and Action Correlate with Bystander Intervention Behavior

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences

Publication Date



The transtheoretical model of change postulates that behavioral adoption is a result of individuals' readiness to change. Applied to prosocial bystander behavior, having greater sexual assault awareness, prevention responsibility, and action can explain students' readiness to intervene as bystanders. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between students' readiness to help (RTH) and their reported prosocial bystander behavior in five sexual assault risk situations. Data were collected from undergraduate students at a northeastern university (n = 9358) in 2014. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed that women's mean scores for RTH subscales of awareness, taking responsibility, and action were significantly greater than men's scores. ANOVA also revealed significant differences between students who did and did not intervene in risk situations, such that those with past prosocial bystander intervention behavior reported significantly greater RTH compared with those who did not intervene. The extent to which RTH variables correlated with past prosocial bystander intervention behavior differed between men and women, as well as across the risk situations. The use of an evidence-based health behavior theory is beneficial for examining correlates of prosocial intervention and it highlights gender differences therein, as well as how readiness relates to bystander intervention behavior differently, depending on the risk situation. Implications for health promotion messaging and prevention initiatives, as well as future research, will be discussed.


This article was originally published in Violence and Gender. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Violence and Gender


Copyright 2018, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers