Sexualized Victims of Stranger Harassment and Victim Blaming: The Moderating Role of Right-Wing Authoritarianism

  • Federica SpaccatiniEmail author
  • Maria Giuseppina Pacilli
  • Ilaria Giovannelli
  • Michele Roccato
  • Giulia Penone
Original Paper


A growing body of research documents the adverse effects of sexualized appearance on people’s attitudes toward women victims of blatant forms of gender violence. However, the impact of sexualization of women victims of subtle forms of gender violence and the moderating role of people’s conservativism on victim blaming remain under-investigated. In the current study, we examined the effects of sexualization on blame attribution to victims of a stranger harassment incident, considering the moderating role of participants’ Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA). Two hundred and thirty-six participants (31.8% male; Mage = 30.52, SD = 12.70) completed an RWA scale and then read a fictitious Facebook’s post where the victim herself described the stranger harassment episode that happened down the street (vs. at a house party). The post was presented with a sexualized (vs. non-sexualized) portrayal of the victim. Finally, participants rated the severity of the episode and expressed to what extent they blamed the victim. As predicted, harassment at the house party (vs. down the street) was perceived as less severe, and sexualized (vs. non-sexualized) victims were blamed to a greater extent. Our major results revealed that people’s RWA synergizes with the victim’s sexualization in shaping blame attribution. People with an average and a high level of RWA tend to blame to a greater extent the sexualized victim of stranger harassment, while blame attributions did not change according to victim’s sexualization for people with a low level of RWA.


Sexualization Right-Wing Authoritarianism Victim blaming Stranger harassment 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TorinoTurinItaly
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly

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