A Social Justice Approach to Measuring Bystander Behavior: Introducing the Critically Conscious Bystander Scale


Researchers studying bystander behavior in the context of sexual violence are informed by the five-step process of bystander intervention that was described by Latané and Darley (1969). According to this process an individual must first recognize a situation as problematic prior to intervening. The behaviors that are easily recognized or taught in college programming as problematic are generally indicative of sexual assault and rape; however, behaviors that feed into sexual violence exist on a continuum, allowing for a range of opportunities for intervention. The goal of the current study was to expand the conceptualization of bystander behavior to include precursors to what has been traditionally considered bystander behavior (e.g., directly intervening on behalf of a potential victim) through the creation and initial validation of the Critically Conscious Bystander Scale (CCBS). The CCBS moves beyond traditional measures of bystander behavior by considering sexual harassment and sexual assault separately. Further, the CCBS incorporates sociopolitical involvement and critical consciousness education within bystander behavior. Through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses and relation to similar and related constructs with two separate U.S. college samples (ns = 409 and 502), the CCBS demonstrated initial reliability and validity encompassing four related, but unique, factors present among the retained items: Sexual Harassment Bystander Behavior, Consciousness Raising, Advocacy/Activism, and Sexual Assault Bystander Behavior. Implications for the CCBS, including how this measure can help to provide a nuanced picture of bystander behavior, are discussed.



Document Type





Advocacy, Bystander behavior, Critical consciousness, Sexual assault, Sexual harassment

Publication Date


Journal Title

Sex Roles