The Influence of Social Norms on Advancement Through Bystander Stages for Preventing Interpersonal Violence

Violence Against Women. 2015 Oct;21(10):1284-307. doi: 10.1177/1077801215592720. Epub 2015 Jul 14.


This research evaluates the impact of social norms on the advancement through the bystander stages toward prosocial (active) intervention in interpersonal violence (IPV): emotional abuse, physical violence, controlling behavior, sexual violence, and stalking. The influence of social norms on bystander behavior across stages and types of violence varies. Accurate social norms perceptions are associated with routine intervention, although social norms misperceptions are not always a strong deterrent to intervention. Interpretation of a violent situation as problematic predicts increased willingness to intervene. Implications for the development of social norms antiviolence campaigns and strategies for reducing barriers to prosocial intervention are discussed.

Keywords: bystander intervention; interpersonal violence prevention; social norms.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Helping Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Perception*
  • Social Problems
  • Spouse Abuse / prevention & control*
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology
  • Women's Health