A transnational study using sequential triangulation and immersive technology to advance bystander intervention research in sexual assault

  • Danielle Labhardt

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    University students are more vulnerable to being sexually victimised than the general public. To address this, research has focused on what influences bystander intervention. A systematic review revealed that this area of research is predominately USA-based, relying on self-report data to understand what influences bystander intervention. There were two aims of this research: (1) to compare a UK and Australian university to understand what influences bystander intervention regarding sexual assault on
    university campuses; and (2) design an ecologically valid and reliable way to measure actual bystander behaviour. Using sequential triangulation, three studies were conducted. Study one utilised a qualitative approach to explore students’ perceptions
    about sexual assault and bystander intervention. Transnationally, ambiguity was a key factor that influenced the interpretation of what sexual assault entails. Themes around where sexual assaults occur, who the victim and perpetrator are, and what could
    influence intervention were also discussed. These findings informed the quantitative design of study two, which used vignettes, to understand the predictive power individual (e.g., bystander efficacy) and contextual (e.g., being alone or with friends) factors had on the likelihood of intervening. Contrary to past research, findings demonstrated that there is a bi-directional relationship between individual and contextual factors influencing intervention. Lastly, the combined findings of studies one and two
    influenced the design of study three. A mixed-methods approach was utilised to shift the bystander research towards developing an experimental methodology. This innovative, transnational research demonstrated intent to intervene and actual behaviour are not as closely linked as is commonly believed. Developing bystander intervention programmes using immersive technology could be an effective method for examining and encouraging bystander behaviour and thereby reduce rates of sexual assault on university campuses.
    Date of Award2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorEmma Holdsworth (Supervisor), Sarah Brown (Supervisor), Douglas Howat (Supervisor), Nadine McKillop (Supervisor) & Christian Jones (Supervisor)

    Cite this