Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

Faculty Sponsor

Sarah Wyscaver


In response to a growing concern about assaults on college campuses, universities are beginning to focus on the capacity of bystanders to intervene. Some schools have started bystander intervention programs for college students, which address bystander effect and barriers to bystander intervention. Schools teach participants how to become active bystanders. These programs rely on research regarding obstacles to intervention that have been tested on general population samples. But because the research focuses on scenarios less likely to occur to college students, there is a gap in understanding what barriers are salient to college student bystanders. Through a qualitative case study, a bystander intervention program was developed and piloted with a group of college students. This intervention program was designed to gain a more in-depth understanding of barriers to intervention that are salient to college students. Results from this study found three emergent themes that inhibit intervention: ambiguity, violation of social norms, and bystander efficacy. This research study contributes to a greater understanding of obstacles that are significant to college students and the college culture. As such, this study has implications for the development of intervention programming for universities.