, Volume 60, Issue 5-6, pp 410-421
Date: 29 Oct 2008

The Role of Gender and Ethnicity in Perceptions of Rape and Its Aftereffects

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Caucasian-, Hispanic-, and Asian-American male and female students (n = 764) attending a California (USA) public university reported their perceptions of sexual assault. After reading a rape vignette, participants gave their impressions of the victim; estimated time needed for recovery and treatment; and recommended a sentence for the assailant. Half of the sample received information regarding state sentencing guidelines. Relative to female participants, males perceived the victim as more responsible. Caucasian-American males had stronger reservation about the victim’s judgment. Males were less inclined to assign blame than were females. Ethnicity was the only factor influencing perceptions of recovery. Ethnicity and sentencing guidelines, but not gender, impacted imprisonment decisions. Issues impeding a unified theoretical understanding of perceptions of rape victims were considered.

This investigation was supported by a grant from the University of North Texas Organized Faculty Research Fund. This article is based in part on a paper presented at the 1999 meeting of the American Psychological Association, Boston, MA.