Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Suzanne Swan


Objective: The importance of involving young college males as prosocial bystanders who will step in to stop sexual violence on college campuses is acknowledged as an important next step in reducing violence against women. However, research revealing which factors influence males to become engaged in this way is nascent. Prior research designed to uncover which factors lead people to step in as prosocial bystanders has primarily focused on situational factors rather than personal characteristics, and has not explored males in the context of intimate partner violence (IPV) more specifically. Method: Survey data from 1,455 male participants, ages 18 through 25, was used to explore the impact of participants' levels of empathy and levels of gender equality ideology on their prosocial bystanding intentions and behaviors. The impact of gender equality on the relationship between empathy and bystanding intentions and behaviors was also explored. Results: Results showed that both empathy and male gender equality ideology were positively associated with scores reflecting participants' bystanding intentions and behaviors to prevent or reduce IPV. Moderation analysis revealed that gender equality ideology was a moderator of the effect of empathy on bystander intentions toward friends. The significant result of moderation impacting bystanding intentions toward friends means that the effect of empathy on bystander intentions towards friends varied conditionally depending upon gender equality ideology. Post hoc analyses showed that when empathy is low, men's beliefs about gender equality matter; they are more likely to intend to engage in prosocial bystanding if they believe more strongly in gender equality. However, at high levels of empathy, gender equality beliefs do not matter as much. Regardless of whether men believe in gender equality or not, if they are highly empathic, they tend to be more likely to intend to engage in bystanding behaviors to prevent violence. This suggests that both empathy and gender equality matter; both of these areas tend to be lacking in men who conform to norms of traditional masculinity. Implications are that boys and men need to receive training in both of these areas to reduce violence against women.