Tackling sexual harassment and sexism with bystander interventions

  • 2017

Witnesses can play a crucial role in helping victims, discouraging perpetrators, and reinforcing norms against sexual harassment, but many have difficulty knowing when and how to intervene.


Often people want to take action when they witness sexual harassment. However, they may fail to recognise it in the moment or not know how to respond. This can be due to unclear social norms, a term referring to our tendency to behave the way we think most other people do.


We trialled a series of emails with practical suggestions on how to take action when witnessing sexual harassment. We used the results to determine what messaging could encourage bystanders to act.

Result & Impact

Messages that emphasised ‘majority’ norms – the idea that most people should and would respond to sexual harassment – were most effective at encouraging bystanders to take action.