Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Patricia A Mitchell

Second Advisor

Christopher Thomas

Third Advisor

Betty Taylor


Sexual assault on university campuses may affect any person at any time. However, university-aged women are disproportionally affected by it, with 25% of women reporting being assaulted on campus, and 84% to 97.8% of them perpetrated by young, heterosexual men known to the victim. To curb sexual assault on the university campus, research studies have advocated for the bystander approach. It encourages bystanders (observers) to intervene and ultimately stop a potentially dangerous situation in which a friend or stranger may experience a sexual assault. Despite its popularity, research studies evaluating the bystander approach have reported, at best, modest success with college men.

Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between first-year male students' adherence to traditional gender roles (masculinity) as measured by their reported level of stress and their attitudes toward bystander approach behaviors. The need for this specific research was evident given the lack of research studies on first-year male's socialization as a variable for the poor success of the bystander approach with college men. Accordingly, the significance of this study's result was the addition of new empirical data gathered to reduce the number of sexual assaults to the existing research knowledge base on male college students.

The survey research study was conducted at a university with a sample of 403 frosh. Ten percent of the study sample responded to the voluntary online survey that was composed of two instruments, the male gender role stress scale (the revised MGRS-R) and the bystander attitude scale (the revised BAS-R). The study findings indicated that first-year male students adhered to traditional male gender roles and reported positive attitudes toward bystander approach behaviors. However, a statistically significant indirect correlation was only found between study samples who had low MGRS-R scores and high BAS-R scores. Thus, first-year male students who did not adhere to traditional male gender roles were more likely to hold positive attitudes toward bystander intervention. In addition, there was an indirect, statistically significant correlation between two stress factors: subornation to women and intellectual superiority. Hence, first-year students who did not consider themselves superior to women were more likely to have positive attitudes toward bystander approach behaviors.

In conclusion, the study findings called for a review of the bystander approach to consider traditional male socialization, and to create male specific awareness and prevention programs to stop sexual assault on college campuses.

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