Bennington College

Project Description

Reactions to Physical Disciplining of Children in Public

Project Abstract

The present study explores the effects of three specific independent variables on bystanders� action (or inaction). The first is violence or danger to the victim or the bystander, as explored by Fischer et al. and supported by Christy & Voigt. The second is the perceived familial relationship between victim and perpetrator, or lack thereof, which was explained in Levine�s analysis of the James Bulger case. The third variable is the bystander�s score on Schmitt et al.�s justice sensitivity scale from the observer perspective.
Based on the established research, the following hypotheses were formed.
1. Subjects who witnessed a particularly violent situation will be more likely to help or intervene than subjects who witness a nonviolent or less violent situation.
2. Subjects who witnessed a situation in which one (perceived) family member is violent toward another will be less likely to intervene than subjects who witness a situation in which they perceive that the victim and perpetrator are unrelated (familially).
The most interesting results will likely appear in situations in which the subject witnessed a particularly violent situation and perceived the victim and perpetrator to be members of the same family. According to established research, these two forces would work against each other (the perceived violence to encourage intervention; the perceived familial relationship to inhibit intervention). I hypothesize that the subject�s dispositional level of justice sensitivity will be the deciding factor in each subject�s action or inaction � those subjects with high justice sensitivity scores will more likely intervene, while those with lower justice sensitivity scores will not.

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