College Athletes, Pluralistic Ignorance and Bystander Behaviors to Prevent Sexual Assault

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology

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Emily KroshusUniversity of Washington

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In a sample of collegiate athletes, the present study assessed whether there’s a discrepancy between perceived and true team norms related to bystander engagement to prevent sexual assault. Collegiate athletes completed surveys (n = 167, response rate = 55%) assessing their own expected likelihood of engaging in behaviors related to the prevention of sexual assault. A mirrored set of items asked about what they believe their teammates would do in the same situations. From these responses, perceived and true team norms were calculated. Among both male and female athletes, perceived norms were significantly less supportive of sexual assault prevention than were true norms. Perceived norms were significantly predictive of an individual’s own expected behaviors. Sport psychologists and other campus mental health professionals who are helping develop programming about sexual assault prevention should incorporate norm correction into their efforts. Consideration should be given to how the unique dynamics of male and female sports settings might influence receptivity to norm correcting efforts.

Kroshus is with the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Dept. of Pediatrics, University of Washington.

Address author correspondence to Emily Kroshus at

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