Psychology students share research findings with community

Published 5 October 2016

The effects of community service announcements on attitudes and behaviour towards domestic violence is just one of 21 research topics being presented by Southern Cross University students on Friday (October 7).

The 13th Annual Psychology Honours Research Conference will be held at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus, with 21 psychology Honours students presenting their findings.

Conference convenor Dr Gail Moloney said that as part of the Honours year in psychology, all students undertook a major independent research project.

“We have a wide range of research being presented, from perceptions of men and masculinity to how to make better gambling decisions,” Dr Moloney said.

“Our students have worked closely with many different organisations and community members. This conference is a wonderful opportunity to share the results of their findings.”

Jodi Wittenberg, who is completing her Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours and is the University’s student representative for the Australian Psychological Society, is researching the effects of community service announcements on bystanders’ response to domestic violence.

“I compared the intentions of a group of participants who viewed a community service announcement put out by the NSW Police Service, which was aimed at encouraging bystanders to report domestic violence incidents, to other groups who viewed videos related to drug abuse or general information about domestic violence,” Jodi said.

“Domestic violence has previously been seen as a private matter. One of the aims of the Police Service ad was to encourage bystanders to intervene by reporting domestic violence.”

Her research involved an online survey of 525 participants, mainly from the Coffs Harbour area. Participants viewed one of the three community service announcements including the ad that highlighted the role of the bystander.

“Despite the powerful nature of the ad, we found no significant differences across groups who watched the different videos in their reported intentions to intervene. We did notice that people were generally more inclined to report intentions to help their friends than strangers, no matter what video they watched.

“To increase bystander intervention, future campaigns may benefit from focusing more on the role of the bystander and providing viewers with tools and language to support victims. Some respondents also failed to hold offenders accountable for their actions if alcohol or stress was involved.”

Jodi said messages encouraging change have been found to be most effective when supported by violence prevention programs in schools, workplaces or the broader community.

Jodi, who will complete her degree this year, is hoping to work in the area of domestic violence prevention after completing further clinical training.
Jodi will present her findings on Friday.

The conference will be opened by Monica Heafey, a Southern Cross University psychology graduate and provisional psychologist at Bindarray Clinic, Baringa Private Hospital, the major sponsor of the event. Members of the public welcome.RSVP to or phone 02 6659 3777.

Photo: Jodi Wittenberg will present her research findings on Friday.

Media contact: Brigid Veale head of Communications and Publications, Southern Cross University, 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.