Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 664–679 | Cite as

College Student Perceptions of Hypothetical Rape Disclosures: Do Relational and Demographic Variables Pose a Risk on Disclosure Believability?

  • Tara M. Emmers-SommerEmail author
Original Paper


The purpose of this investigation is to examine male and female students’ perceived believability of various rape disclosures, manipulated by the relationship (e.g., best friend, neighborhood woman) between the discloser and recipient as well as by various demographic characteristics of the discloser (e.g., gender, race, age). Data were collected online from 777 college students at a large southwestern university, of which 60 students did not report their gender. Of those participants who did report their gender, 342 are men and 375 are women. The average age of the sample is 22.23 years old (SD = 5.53). Results indicate that men and women do not differ in terms of reported believability of a discloser’s false rape disclosure to serve an ulterior motive of getting revenge on a man or falsifying a rape due to pregnancy. However, an examination of male and female students’ reports of discloser believability when examining various relational and demographic factors (i.e., best friend, neighborhood woman, young boy, Indian woman, white woman, black woman), indicate that women and men significantly differ in that women are more inclined to believe the discloser of the rape than men. Within gender differences also exist in terms of believability. Discussion and future directions follow.


Culture Race Gender Class Sexualities 


Compliance of Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author is not aware of any conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This study received approval from the university’s IRB.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of NevadaLas VegasUSA

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