All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Peter Verbeek

Advisory Committee Members

Loretta Cormier

Tina Kempin Reuter

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


This research aims to analyze the types of bystander intervention in public scenes of conflict and/ or duress as presented by United States (U.S.) broadcast media news sources, specifically television (TV). Stories of bystander intervention are regularly featured in news coverage of mass media. As a source of information and entertainment, media is a space of cultural (re)formation. Video analysis of real-life behavior, rather than lab constructs, expands the possibility of what can be observed of human behavior. This is what has expanded the understanding of the behavior of bystander intervention and has challenged the theory of the bystander effect. However, this theory has permeated into popular culture. Additionally, the general public's understanding of the behavior, who should act when and where, and how they understand public safety in general, is not exclusively obtained from academic research. Cultural narratives play a role in shaping perceptions; media, specifically TV, is a mechanism to engage and share these narratives. While TV can be divided by political identity, with viewers often in media bubbles, some narratives are not exclusive to political classification. Videos of bystander intervention prove to be such a narrative. Regardless of if these published examples reflect true engagement in the behavior, they frame the behavior as a positive and beneficial social norm. However, the content can reinforce negative cultural perceptions of gender, race, and ethnicity that define lived experiences.



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