Social exclusion from group activities is a prevalent issue among students in higher education and poses challenges to the creation of a safe and
inclusive learning environment. We conceptually replicated and extended a study by Hayashi and Tahmasbi (2021) to investigate to what extent
the Theory of Planned Behaviour may predict university students’ behavioural intention towards in-person peer social exclusion in a hypothetical
group work setting.
Social exclusion describes an individual purposefully being left out of a group setting (Williams & Govan, 2013). The ways onlooking people react
to social exclusion and other bullying incidents are various (e. g. Salmivalli, 2014; Bauman et al., 2020; Harrison et al., 2022). Assertive
onlookers intervene in a situation in a prosocial way and can influence group norms (Abbott & Cameron, 2014). The present study will enhance
knowledge about factors predicting prosocial and antisocial behavioural intentions to intervene in a hypothetical situation with the aim to support
resource-oriented pedagogical work in higher education (Lambe & Craig, 2020). Fostering factors which contribute to prosocial behavioural
intentions in students may contribute to their acting as assertive onlookers who challenge antisocial behaviours among their fellow students and
encourage a safe social environment from within the peer group.
The Theory of Planned Behaviour assumes that a person’s attitudes towards a behaviour, their subjective norms deriving from significant others,
and their perceived behavioural control predict their intention to execute the behaviour in question (Ajzen, 2012). The intention is considered a
proxy and the most reliable predictor of behaviour (Fishbein & Ajzen, 2010). The Theory of Planned Behaviour is open to extensions and several
potential predictors have been examined previously. In the above mentioned study by Hayashi and Tahmasbi (2021) empathy and anticipated
regret were found to be significant predictors of intention, over and above the standard variables.
In line with their conceptualisation, we included these in our replication study and hypothesised the following for preliminary analyses:
H1a-1c: The more positive the attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control, the likelier a person intends to intervene
H2: Higher empathic concern will significantly predict intention over and above attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control
H3: Higher anticipated regret will significantly predict intention over and above attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control.
Methods and sample
We collected data using an online questionnaire distributed to undergraduate students. The final sample consisted of N=420 undergraduate
students (MAge= 22.76 years, SDAge= 4.02 years; 47.0% male, 50.6 % female, 2.4 % other). Following a text describing a hypothetical group
work situation asking participants to imagine being an onlooker of social exclusion, the intention to intervene (4 items, α =.90), attitude (7 items, α
=.77), subjective norms (6 items, α =.77), perceived behavioural control (5 items, α=.76), Davis’ (1980) empathic concern (7 items, α=.80) and
Hayashi and Tahmasbi ‘s (2021) anticipated regret (2 items, r=.74**) were assessed.
Preliminary analyses and results
Preliminary regression analyses were conducted in IBM SPSS 28. The data supported H1a-1c, indicating that attitude (ß=.312), subjective norms
(ß=.220) and perceived behavioural control (ß=.252) were significant (all p<.001) predictors of intention. However, entering empathic concern
and anticipated regret led to a strong decrease of the prediction by subjective norms (ß=.084; p=.057) which became insignificant. While
anticipated regret (ß=.307; p<.001) significantly predicted intention (as H3 assumed), empathic concern did not (ß=.056; p=185) (contrary to H2).
Outlook towards final paper
Subsequent more complex analyses based on latent constructs will further examine the relationships among the standard and additional
predictor variables and consider more specified outcome variables describing prosocial and antisocial behavioural intentions towards incidents of
social exclusion in university students.