Bystander response to an assault: When a man attacks a woman

  • Shotland R
  • Straw M
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From newspaper accounts it appears that when women were attacked and bystanders did not intervene, frequently the bystanders justified their inactivity by stating that they thought it was a "lovers' quarrel." In the 1st study, 51 undergraduates witnessed a violent fight between a man and a woman (confederates). Ss intervened more frequently in the fight between strangers than between a married couple. In 3 additional experiments with a total of 126 male and 98 female undergraduates who watched the fight on film, it was found that the stranger condition was perceived as being more damaging to the woman although the fights themselves were identical. The woman in the stranger condition was seen as wanting help more frequently than the married woman. In addition, the attacker was perceived as likely to run in the stranger condition and to stay and fight in the married condition. If Ss know little about the conflict, they seem likely to perceive the protagonists as dates, lovers, or married couples rather than as strangers, acquaintances, or friends. Implications for social control are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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  • bystander response to man assaulting woman, college students, implications for social control

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  • R. Lance Shotland

  • Margret K. Straw

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