Clubs and Organizations


Scientific Basis

A review of the literature within the field of violence against women suggests that little has been done that has resulted in effective, measurable, broad-scale prevention. However, an examination of the outcome/evaluation research does provide some clear indicators of prevention strategies that have not been effective. For example, traditional awareness programming in the form of one-time only educational programs, large-scale events and the dissemination of printed educational materials as stand-alone strategies– are not effective means to reduce violence. A high concentration of traditional program content within a short program, including myths/facts, statistics, socialization dynamics and definitions have also failed to demonstrate a decrease in violence. These types of approaches have demonstrated some success at increasing basic knowledge, and some lesser success at improving violence-related attitudes, particularly in the short term, and increasing utilization of direct services. Finally, there is also little to support prevention programming that focuses exclusively on risk reduction targeting women, and there has been little demonstrated effectiveness in approaching all men as potential perpetrators. While there are clear indicators of what not to do, there is an absence of demonstrated effective prevention programming available within the violence against women literature. However, the research gleaned from an examination of outside disciplines provides theoretical and empirical support for the GREEN DOT model.

Green Dot

Green Dot

A GREEN DOT is any behavior, choice, word, or attitude that counters or displaces a red-dot of violence – by promoting safety for everyone and communicating utter intolerance for sexual violence, interpersonal violence, stalking and child abuse.

Diffusion of Innovation / Social Diffusion Theory.

Social diffusion theory (Rogers, 1983) is based on the premise that behavior change in a population can be initiated and then will diffuse to others if enough natural and influential opinion leaders within the population visibly adopt, endorse and support an innovative behavior. Based on this model, popular opinion leaders (POLS) of any given population are systematically identified, recruited, and trained to serve as behavior change “endorsers” within their community and sphere of influence, resulting in a shift in the targeted attitudes and behaviors within that community. In other words, opinion leaders shape social/behavior changes by making it easier for others to initiate and maintain certain “new” behaviors. Diffusion of innovation theory and the influence of popular opinion leaders to establish new behavioral trends has been studied extensively for decades and proven widely successful across settings and content areas (Kelly et al., 1997; Kelly, 2004; Sikkema, 2000).

Application to Violence Prevention: Given power-based personal violence in our state and country exists on scale that clearly reaches the scope of a public health concern that requires broad-based, community level change, it is imperative that a critical mass of individuals endorse and engage in targeted behaviors that are proactively and visibly intolerant of violence. Since few organizations have the resources to provide direct training to enough individuals to obtain this critical mass, strategically targeting the most socially influential individuals becomes necessary, as these “popular opinion leaders” can then most effectively and efficiently impact the attitudes and behaviors of their peers through modeling, endorsing and engaging in the targeted behaviors.

Bystander Literature.

Within the field of Social Psychology, there is decades of research documenting basic principles of bystander behavior that have a broad impact on individual and group choices. This body of research seeks to understand why individuals choose to intervene or remain passive when they are in the role of a bystander in a potentially risky, dangerous or emergency situation. The current body of knowledge demonstrates bystander influences such as: (1) diffusion of responsibility – when faced with a crisis situation, individuals are less likely to respond when more people are present because each assumes that someone else will handle it (Darley & Latane, 1968; Chekroun & Brauer, 2002); (2) evaluation apprehension - when faced with a high risk situation, individuals are reluctant to respond because they are afraid they will look foolish (Latane & Darley, 1970); (3) pluralistic ignorance – when faced with an ambiguous, but potentially high-risk situation, individuals will defer to the cues of those around them when deciding whether to respond (Clark & Word, 1974; Latane & Darely, 1970); (4) confidence in skills – individuals are more likely to intervene in a high-risk situations when they feel confident in their ability to do so effectively; (5) modeling – individuals are more likely to intervene in a high risk situation when they have seen someone else model it first (Bryan & Test, 1967; Rushton & Campbell, 1977). These well documented principles, and others, not only suggest what inhibits bystanders from intervening, but also, strategies for effectively overcoming these inhibitions and increasing the pro-active response of bystanders.

Application to Violence Prevention: As the Social Diffusion Theory demonstrates the power of identifying socially influential individuals to endorse and exhibit targeted behaviors, the bystander research provides the targeted behavior we want endorsed. These behaviors include actively intervening in situations that are imminently or potentially high-risk for violence, as well as effective means to elicit that targeted behavior. Further, this body of research provides specific strategies to actually increasing the likelihood that the trained popular opinion leaders will actually intervene when they are in the role of a bystander.

Perpetrator Data.

There is a growing body of research that gives insight into the behaviors and patterns of perpetrators. Research on batterers demonstrates the mechanisms most often used to exert power and control over a target – from the earliest warning signs to the most extreme forms of violence (Johnson et al., 2006). Literature examining the behaviors of sexual offenders, particularly offenders known to the victim, gives profound and clear insight into their patterns – including how they target, assess, and isolate a victim (Lisak & Roth, 1988; Lisak & Miller, 2002). There is also significant research delineating the characteristics, risk factors, psychosocial and psychological attributes of physical, sexual and emotional child abusers (i.e., Finkelhor & Ormond, 2001; Milner & Dopke, 1997; Rodriguez & Price, 2004; Quinsey & Lalumiere, 2001).

Application to Violence Prevention: If Social Diffusion Theory speaks to “who” and Bystander Theory speaks to “what”, then understanding how perpetrators operate in targeting, assessing and victimizing speaks to “how.” While the proposed model wants to engage bystanders in active intervention when they see a high-risk situation, the perpetrator literature is valuable in clearly delineating what constitutes a high-risk situation. By knowing what a perpetrator is likely to do, a bystander can be alerted to behaviors that require intervention. Other key bodies of literature that inform the Green Dot model include: persuasion/marketing, social change models, behavior change models, communication and public health.