Sex Roles

, Volume 58, Issue 11–12, pp 790–801 | Cite as

Prevalence of Rape Myths in Headlines and Their Effects on Attitudes Toward Rape

  • Renae FraniukEmail author
  • Jennifer L. Seefelt
  • Joseph A. Vandello
Original Article


The present research investigated the prevalence and effects of rape myths in newspaper headlines. In study 1, a content analysis of online news headlines from US media (N = 555) surrounding the 2003–2004 Kobe Bryant sexual assault case showed that 10% endorsed a rape myth. In study 2, students at a mid-sized university in the mid-western USA (N = 154) read headlines endorsing or not endorsing rape myths. Male participants exposed to myth-endorsing headlines were (a) less likely to think Bryant was guilty than those exposed to non-myth headlines, (b) more likely to hold rape-supportive attitudes than those exposed to non-myth headlines, and (c) more likely to hold rape-supportive attitudes than were female participants exposed to myth-endorsing headlines.


Sexual assault Rape myths Media News headlines Attitudes towards rape 



This research was supported in part by a Faculty Advisor Research grant from Psi Chi. We are grateful for help with data collection from Taran Shepard, Alicia Hill, and Vanessa Nuñez.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renae Franiuk
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jennifer L. Seefelt
    • 2
  • Joseph A. Vandello
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAurora UniversityAuroraUSA
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin-Stevens PointStevens PointUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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