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Using Virtual Reality to Assess the Efficacy of a Motivational Interviewing Intervention to Increase Bystander Behaviors

Hanna M Grandgenett, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Bystander interventions, which train witnesses to intervene to diffuse potentially risky sexual situations, are a common sexual assault prevention approach on college campuses. Current bystander intervention trainings are typically conducted in group sessions involving education about how to recognize and intervene in response to sexual risk situations. Although successful in changing knowledge and attitudes about sexual assault prevention, these programs have mixed success in changing actual bystander behaviors. Furthermore, the majority of bystander trainings are evaluated with self-report measures, which are subject to several limitations such as social desirability bias and inaccurate recall. The present study addressed these limitations by using self-report measures and virtual reality technology to evaluate a new, motivational interviewing (MI) intervention for increasing bystander behaviors to prevent sexual violence. Fifty-seven young adult community members were randomly assigned to complete a motivational interviewing intervention—Motivate-the-Bystander (MTB)— or an assessment only control condition. A series of regression models was utilized to examine whether participants who completed MTB displayed increases in self-reported bystander attitudes, efficacy, and behaviors, along with observed bystander behaviors in our virtual house party (i.e., Bystander in Sexual Assault Virtual Environment; BSAVE). This project also examined whether participant factors (i.e., gender, rape myth acceptance, alcohol use) moderated the efficacy of the intervention on bystander outcomes. Findings indicate that, compared to control participants, participants who completed MTB displayed increases in self-reported bystander attitudes, efficacy, and behaviors. Furthermore, the positive relations between MTB and self-reported bystander attitudes and efficacy were weakened to the extent that participants more strongly endorsed rape myths. Unexpectedly, experimental condition was not related to their observed bystander behaviors in the virtual environment. Knowledge gained from this study may enhance the development of bystander programs, as the study suggests promise for an individualized, motivational interviewing bystander intervention to improve bystanders’ attitudes and behaviors. Findings also underscore the need for additional research on the unique measurement constraints of different bystander measures (e.g., self-report, virtual reality).

Subject Area

Psychology|Computer science|Counseling Psychology|Behavioral psychology

Recommended Citation

Grandgenett, Hanna M, "Using Virtual Reality to Assess the Efficacy of a Motivational Interviewing Intervention to Increase Bystander Behaviors" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI29321001.
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI29321001

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