Methods: We used structural equation modeling (SEM) with longitudinal data to test unidirectional and reciprocal causal relations between BI and BE. Participants (n = 1,390) were students at a northeastern U.S. university. Students completed an online survey over a period of that included a number of validated scales. A total of four data points were used that spanned a one year period. Four models were examined using SEM: (1) a baseline model with autoregressive paths; (2) a model with autoregressive effects and BI predicting future BE; (3) a model with autoregressive effects and BE predicting future BI; and, (4) a fully cross-lagged model.
Results: Results indicated that reciprocal causality was found to occur between BI and BE. In addition, a final model demonstrated indirect effects of a bystander intervention program on bystander behaviors through both BI and BE at different time points.
Implications: The findings suggest that bystander intervention education programs would likely benefit from minimally addressing both bystander efficacy and behavioral intent, based on the premise that these work together in encouraging positive bystander behavior. The findings also indicate that as compared to receiving one session of bystander education training, additional sessions yield better outcomes.