Date of Graduation

Spring 2018


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

David Lutz


alcohol, sexual assault, college students, bystanders

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Social Psychology


Research has linked alcohol to violence and sexual assault, especially within the college student population. Most of this research focuses on the effects of alcohol on victims or perpetrators of sexual assault and not on bystanders of such situations. This study examines how self-reported drinking behavior affects students' ability to recognize risk of sexual assault in written scenarios and the various barriers that would inhibit their willingness to intervene. A sample of 275 students (183 female, 92 male) were asked to read one of three scenarios and respond to a brief questionnaire adapted from Burn's (2009) Barriers to Bystander Intervention Questionnaire. Participants also reported their alcohol consumption and drinking behavior using the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT). Participants who reported riskier levels of drinking behavior were less likely to agree that they could identify risk within the scenarios and that they were less likely to notice this type of scenario. Participants generally had difficulty differentiating situations based on risk. The results suggest that alcohol interferes with college students' ability to notice or identify risk in sexual assault scenarios that can impact intervention and reporting of sexual among college students.


© Heather Lepper

Open Access