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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgment

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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Correspondence to Renae Franiuk.

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Franiuk, R., Seefelt, J.L. & Vandello, J.A. Prevalence of Rape Myths in Headlines and Their Effects on Attitudes Toward Rape. Sex Roles 58, 790–801 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-007-9372-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-007-9372-4

Keywords

  • Sexual assault
  • Rape myths
  • Media
  • News headlines
  • Attitudes towards rape