Social marketing to prevent sexual violence

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Used with permission www.unh.edu/preventioninnovations/

In the study recently ePublished in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Sharyn Potter and her colleagues at the University of New Hampshire have found that students who identify with the subjects in a poster campaign are more likely to take some action toward the prevention of violence against women.

The posters series, Know Your Power, depicts scenarios of students taking action as active bystanders to interrupt abuse. The poster above has this dialogue among three men at a party with alcohol:

“I’m gonna to get Kali so wasted she can’t say no.”

“That’s messed up. If you are going to do that you have to leave now.”

“If you want to get with a girl, that not the way to do it.”

The authors suggest:

Previous research indicates that in-person education programs tend to be more effective than passive intervention methods. Yet our findings show that the Know Your Power social marketing campaign raises awareness about the incidence of sexual violence on campus and the importance of taking action to reduce sexual violence on campus even when controlling for previous participation in a prevention program.

Indeed, changes come not only from education, but also from well planned marketing efforts.  And when education is coordinated with marketing we create an environment conducive to even more change.

It is interesting to read about how the authors measured the shifts. One tool is the “Readiness to Change” model adapted for sexual violence prevention which was developed by University of New Hampshire colleagues. More can be found in Victoria Banyard’s January 2010 article Sexual Violence Prevention: The Role of Stages of Change. Here are the different stages in this scale:

  1. I don’t think sexual assault is a big problem on campus.
  2. I don’t think there is much I can do about sexual assault on campus.
  3. There isn’t much need for me to think about sexual assault on campus, that’s the job of the crisis center.
  4. Sometimes I think I should learn more about sexual assault but I haven’t done so yet.
  5. I think I can do something about sexual assault and am planning to find out what I can do about the problem.
  6. I am planning to learn more about the problem of sexual assault on campus.
  7. I have recently attended a program about sexual assault.
  8. I am actively involved in projects to deal with sexual assault on campus.
  9. I have recently taken part in activities or volunteered my time on projects focused on ending sexual assault on campus.

This scale suggests useful concepts that can support the measurement of sexual violence prevention.  By trying to have prevention efforts focus on making shifts in these nine areas, we have a useful theoretical model. I am interested in seeing this work informing more sexual violence prevention efforts.

Here is the full abstract and link to these articles.

Sexual Violence Prevention: The Role of Stages of Change

Banyard VL,  Eckstein RP,  Moynihan MM Journal of Interpersonal Violence, January 2010; vol. 25, 1: pp. 111-135.

Click here for a link to the article on the journal’s web site.

(Copyright © 2010, Sage Publications)

Increasing numbers of empirical studies and theoretical frameworks for preventing sexual violence are appearing in the research- and practice-based literatures. The consensus of this work is that although important lessons have been learned, the field is still in the early stages of developing and fully researching effective models, particularly for the primary prevention of this problem in communities. The purpose of this article is to discuss the utility of applying the transtheoretical model of readiness for change to sexual violence prevention and evaluation. A review of this model and its application in one promising new primary prevention program is provided, along with exploratory data about what is learned about program design and effectiveness when the model is used. The study also represents one of the first attempts to operationalize and create specific measures to quantify readiness for change in the context of sexual violence prevention and evaluation. Implications for program development and evaluation research are discussed.

Using Social Self-Identification in Social Marketing Materials Aimed at Reducing Violence Against Women on Campus.

Potter SJ, Moynihan MM, Stapleton JG. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2010; ePublished June 3, 2010

Click here for a link to the abstract on the journal’s web site.

(Copyright © 2010, Sage Publications)

Bystander-focused in person sexual violence prevention programs provide an opportunity for skill development among bystanders and for widening the safety net for survivors. A social marketing campaign was designed modeling prosocial bystander behavior and using content familiar to target audience members by staging and casting scenes to look similar to the people and situations that the target audience regularly encounters. We refer to this sense of familiarity as social self-identification. In this exploratory study, we attempt to understand how seeing oneself and one’s peer group (e.g., social self-identification) in poster images affects target audience members’ (e.g., college students) willingness to intervene as a prosocial bystander. The posters in the social marketing campaign were displayed throughout a midsize northeastern public university campus and neighboring local businesses frequented by students. During the last week of the 4-week poster display, the university’s homepage portal featured an advertisement displaying a current model of an iPod offering undergraduate students an opportunity to win the device if they completed a community survey. We found that among students who had seen the posters, those who indicated that the scenes portrayed in the posters looked like situations that were familiar to them were significantly more likely to contemplate taking action in preventing a situation where sexual violence had the potential to occur. Furthermore, students who indicated familiarity with the poster content were more likely to indicate that they had acted in a manner similar to those portrayed in the poster. Future directions based on findings from this exploratory study are discussed.

David Lee

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. David manages the national project Prevention Connection, an online community of violence against women prevention practitioners, funders, researchers and activists. For over 29 years David has worked in efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ashley July 8, 2010, 12:08 PM

    This work will certainly inform my efforts! What would I do without your tweets and posts!?

    • David Lee July 8, 2010, 1:11 PM David Lee

      Thanks. I also find your tweets and post helpful. It is great to be part of a virtual community

  • Brad July 9, 2010, 8:52 AM

    I really love NH’s project, and I will read these articles with great interest! My one criticism is that, from a purely graphic design standpoint, those posters are kind of cluttered. I wonder what the students think about that, or the general aesthetics…b/c we’ve found that such things definitely matter. Especially to media-savvy college students.

    That said, I do really love that the setting is at a party with alcohol, b/c that’s a “real” situation that I think a lot of campuses would be less than thrilled about portraying. I know that the “social norms marketing” anti-binge-drinking fanatics at the university here would be up in arms over a poster like this for that reason – that it tacitly reinforces (what they claim are false) college drinking norms. Do you know if they’ve run into any problems along those lines? If so, how did they respond?

  • Brad July 9, 2010, 8:56 AM

    Oh, and to clarify….I love the “realness” of the party setting on the poster b/c I think it makes the posters/message readily relatable to the majority of college students.

  • Kat M August 5, 2010, 2:14 PM

    I realize I’m a month behind on this discussion..
    Had a thought about your comment Brad about the posters reinforcing supposedly false social norms about college drinking behavior. (Thinking I’m pretty familiar with those anti-drinking social norm-ers you speak of…)
    You could argue that if college students think everyone drinks & parties then they would relate to the poster as being authentic to their idea of college behavior (regardless of their own drinking habits) and possibly internalize the bystander messages & accept it as the thing to do as a college student. Eh? Maybe it reinforces the party atmosphere but realistically many college kids will attend at least one party before their 4 (or 5) years are up & I think it’s worth using that setting. I agree that these posters can be really useful tools. The campaign a good variety of messages for bystanders as well.
    Although I’m still partial to Red Flag of course.

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