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Double Standards in Perceived Traits of Women Labeled Victims Versus Survivors

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Abstract

Media reports on sexual assaults are omnipresent in today’s societies. Applying the labels “victim” and “survivor” to women who have been sexually assaulted influences their identities by evoking certain stereotypical images. However, the use of these labels is possibly affected by double standards in contemporary society. Certain traits are viewed more positively for men than women. The present study aimed to investigate the presence of the double standard phenomenon in the labelling of women who have been sexually assaulted. Two studies were conducted. Study 1 examined differences in character traits attached to the labels. Results showed significant differences for 13 of 15 adjectives in the victim versus survivor label conditions. Study 2 consisted of two sub-studies that examined the double standard nature of these character traits using explicit (2a) and implicit measures (2b). Study 2a did not show pronounced effects of the double standard. However, findings of Study 2b demonstrated that the character traits attached to the label “survivor” suggest a double standard. The findings underscore the impact of labelling on women who have been sexually assaulted. Further implications are discussed.

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Correspondence to Sieun An.

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The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional committee (Ashoka Institutional Review Board: 10042017) on human experimentation and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Setia, A., Marks, M. & An, S. Double Standards in Perceived Traits of Women Labeled Victims Versus Survivors. Sexuality & Culture 24, 1562–1578 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-020-09712-w

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