This study focuses on primary prevention by establishing a baseline of certain risk and protective factors: attitudes about gender norms, attitudes about media portrayal of gender, and bystander intervention. By understanding how groups differ in their attitudes, prevention efforts can be tailored to specific communities and groups.
Methods Random digit dialing was used to obtain a sample of 886 from the population of New Jersey. The phone interviews took about 15 minutes to complete and asked about demographics, the participant's beliefs regarding gender roles, sexual violence, portrayal of gender in the media, and likelihood to intervene in situations ranging from use of sexually derogatory language to potential for sexual assault.
Results ANCOVA was used to compare demographic groups' Attitudes about Gender Roles, Attitudes about Media, and Attitudes about Bystander Behaviors. These 3 areas were measured by mean scores from scales following an exploratory factor analysis. Age, race, and gender were examined while controlling for education, as education was highly correlated with all 3 scales. Analyses used weighted data.
Results indicate that older people, minority racial groups, and men hold more traditional views of gender roles. For Attitudes about Media, only gender was significant, with women more likely to believe that the media portrays women negatively. Attitudes about Bystander Behaviors varied by gender and age, with women and older respondents reporting greater likelihood to intervene.
Implications Effective sexual violence prevention efforts must address the underlying assumptions held by individuals in a community in order to change rape supportive ideologies and social norms and, ultimately, to decrease sexual violence perpetration (Berkowitz, 2001; Davis & Little, 2002; Fabiano et al, 2003; Lonsway, 1996; Potter et al, in press; Stein, 2007). This study provides a foundation for tailoring prevention efforts to the various groups found in NJ by specifying groups that have higher risk attitudes about gender and media and the protective factor of willingness to intervene. Furthermore, this information provides critical information to sexual violence prevention efforts and can be used for future research and prevention efforts among communities and states beyond NJ.