Sex Roles

, Volume 41, Issue 3–4, pp 261–277 | Cite as

An Examination of Date Rape, Victim Dress, and Perceiver Variables Within the Context of Attribution Theory

  • Jane E. Workman
  • Elizabeth W. Freeburg


Researchers examined the influence of victimdress, perceiver gender, situational relevance, andpersonal relevance on attributions of responsibility fordate rape. Participants were from a campus population described as 75% White non-Hispanic, 14% Blacknon-Hispanic, 2% Asian, 2% Hispanic, 4% nonresidentaliens, and 3% other, and were characterized asprimarily middle class. Participants read a date rapescenario, viewed a photograph of the victim, attributedresponsibility to victim and perpetrator, and estimatedsituational relevance and personal relevance.Multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) indicated a significant difference between groups(perceiver gender, victim dress) on the two dependentvariables (responsibility of victim and perpetrator) andthe covariates. There were significant differences in attribution of responsibility to the femalevictim due to perceiver gender, victim dress, and thecovariate personal relevance, accounting for a smallproportion of variance. Men attributed moreresponsibility to the victim than women. Both men and womenwho viewed a photograph of the victim in a short skirtattributed more responsibility to the victim than thosewho viewed a photograph of the victim in a moderate or long skirt. As womens' personal relevanceincreased, attribution of responsibility to the victimdecreased. Men attributed less responsibility to themale perpetrator than women. As mens' situational relevance increased, attribution ofresponsibility to the perpetrator decreased. Presumably,participants' attributed responsibility was motivated byblame avoidance. Theoretical and practical implications are presented.


Covariance Social Psychology Middle Class Practical Implication Personal Relevance 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane E. Workman
  • Elizabeth W. Freeburg

There are no affiliations available

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