Skip to main content

Beyond Rape Myths: A More Complex View of Perceptions of Rape Victims

Abstract

This research examined personal beliefs and perceptions of cultural stereotypes surrounding rape victims. Students (ages 18–21) at a primarily Caucasian University listed either their personal beliefs or their perceptions of cultural stereotypes surrounding rape victims and rated a specific rape victim either according to their personal beliefs or their perceptions of cultural stereotypes. Personal beliefs about rape victims tended to focus more on perceptions of victim reactions to the rape (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.) rather than on rape myths (e.g., she asked for it, was promiscuous, etc.). Perceptions of cultural stereotypes, however, comprised rape myths rather than the victim's reactions to rape. We propose that perceptions of rape victims are more multifaceted than has previously been suggested.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

REFERENCES

  • Bargh, J. A. (1996). Automaticity in social psychology. In E. T. Higgins & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (pp. 169-183). NewYork: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bell, S. T., Kuriloff, P. J., & Lottes, I. (1994). Understanding attributions of blame in stranger rape and date rape situations: An examination of gender, race, identification, and students' social perceptions of rape victims. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 1719-1734.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bridges, J. S. (1991). Perceptions of date and stranger rape: Adifference in sex role expectations and rape-supportive beliefs. Sex Roles, 24, 291-307.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bridges, J. S., & McGrail, C. A. (1989). Attributions of responsibility for date and stranger rape. Sex Roles, 21, 273-286.

    Google Scholar 

  • Burgess, A.W., & Holmstrom, L. L. (1974). Rape: Victims of crisis. Bowie, MD: Brady.

    Google Scholar 

  • Burgess, A. W., & Holmstrom, L. L. (1976). Coping behavior of the rape victim. American Journal of Psychiatry, 133, 413-418.

    Google Scholar 

  • Burgess, A.W., & Holmstrom, L. L. (1978). Recovery from rape and prior life stresses. Research in Nursing and Health, 1, 165-174.

    Google Scholar 

  • Burgess, D., & Borgida, E. (1999). Who women are, who women should be: Descriptive and prescriptive gender stereotyping in sex discrimination. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 5, 665-692.

    Google Scholar 

  • Burt, M. R. (1980). Cultural myths and support for rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 217-230.

    Google Scholar 

  • Burt, M. R., & Albin, R. S. (1981). Rape myths, rape definitions, and probability of conviction. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 11, 212-230.

    Google Scholar 

  • Calhoun, K. S., Atkeson, B. M., & Resick, P. A. (1982). A longitudinal examination of fear reactions in victims of rape. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 29, 655-661.

    Google Scholar 

  • Calhoun, L.G., Cann, A., Selby, J.W., & Magee, D.L. (1981). Victim emotional response: Effects on social reaction to victims of rape. British Journal of Social Psychology, 20, 17-21.

    Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, R., & Johnson, C. R. (1997). Police officers' perceptions of rape: Is there consistency between state law and individual beliefs? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12, 255-274.

    Google Scholar 

  • Check, J. V. P., & Malamuth, N. M. (1983). Sex role stereotyping and reactions to depictions of stranger versus acquaintance rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 344-356.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cross, S. E., & Madson, L. (1997). Models of the self: Self-construals and gender. Psychological Bulletin, 122, 5-37.

    Google Scholar 

  • Deitz, S. R., Blackwell, K. T., Daley, P. C., & Bentley, B. J. (1982). Measurement of empathy toward rape victims and rapists. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 372-384.

    Google Scholar 

  • Deitz, S. R., & Byrnes, L.E. (1981). Attribution of responsibility for sexual assault: The influence of observer empathy and defendant occupation and attractiveness. Journal of Psychology, 108, 17-29.

    Google Scholar 

  • Deitz, S. R., Littman, M., & Bentley, B. J. (1984). Attribution of responsibility for rape: The influence of observer empathy, victim resistance, and victim attractiveness. Sex Roles, 10, 261-280.

    Google Scholar 

  • Devine, P. G. (1989). Stereotypes and prejudice: Their automatic and controlled components. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 5-18.

    Google Scholar 

  • Devine, P. G., & Elliot, A. J. (1995). Are racial stereotypes really fading? The Princeton trilogy revisited. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 1139-1150.

    Google Scholar 

  • Edmonds, E. M., Cahoon, D. D., & Shipman, M. (1991). Predictions of opposite-sex attitudes concerning gender-related social issues. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 29, 295-296.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frazier, P. A., & Haney, B. (1996). Sexual assault cases in the legal system: Police, prosecutor, and victim perspectives. Law and Human Behavior, 20, 607-628.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frohmann, L. (1991). Discrediting victims' allegations of sexual assault: Prosecutorial accounts of case rejections. Social Problems, 38, 213-226.

    Google Scholar 

  • Giacopassi, D. J., & Dull, R. T. (1986). Gender and racial differences in the acceptance of rape myths within a college population. Sex Roles, 15, 63-75.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gilmartin-Zena, P. (1988). Gender differences in students' attitudes toward rape. Sociological Focus, 21, 279-292.

    Google Scholar 

  • Glick, P., Diebold, J., Bailey-Werner, B., & Zhu, L. (1997). The two faces of Adam: Ambivalent sexism and polarized attitudes toward women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 1323-1334.

    Google Scholar 

  • Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 491-512.

    Google Scholar 

  • Greenwald, A.G., & Banaji, M. R. (1995). Implicit social cognition: Attitudes, self-esteem, and stereotyping. Psychological Review, 102, 4-27.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heise, L., Pitanguy, J., & Germain, A. (1993). Violence against women: The hidden health burden. Washington, DC: TheWorld Bank.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hickman, S. E., & Muehlenhard, C. L. (1997). College women's fears and precautionary behaviors relating to acquaintance rape and stranger rape. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 527-547.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hinck, S. S., & Thomas, R.W. (1999). Rape myth acceptance in college students: How far have we come? Sex Roles, 40, 815-832.

    Google Scholar 

  • Holmstrom, L. L., & Burgess, A.W. (1983). The victim of rape. New Brunswick: Transaction.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoyt, S. K. (1998). Beyond prejudiced thoughts: Conceptual links between classicism and discrimination. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Miami University, Oxford, OH.

    Google Scholar 

  • Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered assumptions: Towards a new psychology of trauma. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, B. E., Kuck, D. L., & Schander, P. R. (1997). Rape myth acceptance and sociodemographic characteristics: A multidimensional analysis. Sex Roles, 36, 693-707.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jones, E. E., & Sigall, H. (1971). The bogus pipeline: A new paradigm for measuring affect and attitude. Psychological Bulletin, 76, 349-364.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kahn, A. S., Mathie, V. A., & Torgler, C. (1994). Rape scripts and rape acknowledgment. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 53-66.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kanekar, S., Shaherwalla, A., Franco, B., Kunju, T., & Pinto, A. J. (1991). The acquaintance predicament of a rape victim. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21, 1524-1544.

    Google Scholar 

  • Katz, I., & Haas, R. G. (1988). Racial ambivalence and American value conflict: Correlational and priming studies of dual cognitive structures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 893-905.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kilpatrick, D. G., Resick, P. A., & Veronen, L. J. (1981). Effects of a rape experience: A longitudinal study. Journal of Social Issues, 37, 105-122.

    Google Scholar 

  • King, H. E., Rotter, M. J., Calhoun, L.G., & Selby, J.W. (1978). Perceptions of the rape incident: Physician and volunteer counselors. Journal of Community Psychology, 6, 74-77.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kopper, B. A. (1996). Gender, gender identity, rape myth acceptance, and time of initial resistance on the perception of acquaintance rape blame and avoidability. Sex Roles, 34, 81-93.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koss, M. P. (1985). The hidden rape victim: Personality, attitudinal, and situational characteristics. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9, 192-212.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koss, M. P., Dinero, T. E., Seibel, C. A., & Cox, S. L. (1988). Stranger and acquaintance rape: Are there differences in the victim's experience? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 12, 1-24.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koss, M. P., Goodman, L. A., Browne, A., Fitzgerald, L. F., Keita, G. P., & Russo, N. F. (1994). No safe haven: Male violence against women at home, at work, and in the community. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koss, M. P., Heise, L., & Russo, N. F. (1994). The global health burden of rape. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 509-537.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krahe, B. (1988). Victim and observer characteristics as determinants of responsibility attributions to victims of rape. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 18, 50-58.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krulewitz, J. E. (1982). Reactions to rape victims: Effects of rape circumstances, victim's emotional response, and sex of helper. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 29, 645-654.

    Google Scholar 

  • LaFree, G. D. (1989). Rape and criminal justice: The social construction of sexual assault. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

    Google Scholar 

  • L'Armand, K., & Pepitone, A. (1982). Judgments of rape: A study of victim-rapist relationship and victim sexual history. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 8, 134-139.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lonsway, K. A., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (1994). Rape myths: In review. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 133-1164.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lonsway, K. A., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (1995). Attitudinal antecedents of rape myth acceptance: A theoretical and empirical reexamination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 704-711.

    Google Scholar 

  • Luginbuhl, J., & Mullin, C. (1981). Rape and responsibility: How and how much is the victim blamed? Sex Roles, 7, 547-559.

    Google Scholar 

  • Madon, S. (1997).What do people believe about gay males? A study of stereotype content and strength. Sex Roles, 37, 663-685.

    Google Scholar 

  • Madon, S., Guyll, M., Aboufadel, K., Montiel, E., Smith, A., Palumbo, P., & Jussim, L. (2001). Ethnic and national stereotypes: The Princeton trilogy revisited and revised. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 996-1010.

    Google Scholar 

  • Malamuth, N. M., & Brown, L. M. (1994). Sexually aggressive men's perceptions of women's communications: Testing three explanations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 699-712.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, A. G., Ashton, W. A., McHoskey, J. W., Gimbel, J. (1990). What price attractiveness? Stereotype and risk factors in suntanning behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20, 1272-1300.

    Google Scholar 

  • Muehlenhard, C. L., & Rodgers, C. S. (1998). Token resistance to sex: New perspectives on an old stereotype. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 22, 443-463.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nadelson, C. C., Notman, M. T., Zackson, H., & Gornick, J. (1982). A follow-up study of rape victims. American Journal of Psychiatry, 139, 1266-1270.

    Google Scholar 

  • Osland, J. A., Fitch, M., & Willis, E. E. (1996). Likelihood to rape in college males. Sex Roles, 35, 171-183.

    Google Scholar 

  • Plaud, J. J., & Bigwood, S. J. (1997). The relationship of male self-report of rape supportive attitudes, sexual fantasy, social desirability and physiological arousal to sexually coercive stimuli. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 53, 935-942.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pollard, P. (1992). Judgments about victims and attackers in depicted rapes: A review. British Journal of Social Psychology, 31, 307-326.

    Google Scholar 

  • Russell, D. E. H. (1998). Wife rape and the law. In M. E. Odem & Clay-Warner, J. (Eds.), Confronting rape and sexual assault (pp. 71-81). Wilmington, DE: SR Books/Scholarly Resources.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schneider, L. J., Ee, J. S., & Aronson, H. (1994). Effects of victim gender and physical vs. psychological trauma/injury on observers' perceptions of sexual assault and its aftereffects. Sex Roles, 30, 793-808.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shaver, K. C. (1970). Defensive attribution: Effects of severity and relevance on the responsibility assigned for an accident. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 14, 101-113.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sinclair, H. C., & Bourne, L. E. (1998). Cycle of blame or just world: Effects of legal verdicts on gender patterns in rape myth acceptance and victim empathy. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 22, 575-588.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stangor, C., & Lange, J. E. (1994). Mental representations of social groups: Advances in understanding stereotypes and stereotyping. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 26). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tetreault, P. A., & Barnett, M. A. (1987). Reactions to stranger and acquaintance rape. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 11, 353-358.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tieger, T. (1981). Self-rated likelihood of raping and the social perception of rape. Journal of Research in Personality, 15, 147-158.

    Google Scholar 

  • U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (1997). Criminal victimization in the United States. Washington, DC: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ward, C. A. (1995). Attitudes toward rape: Feminist and social psychological perspectives. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Weir, J. A., & Wrightsman, L. S. (1990). The determinants of mock jurors' verdicts in a rape case. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20, 901-919.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wicker, A.W. (1969). Attitudes versus actions: The relationship of verbal and overt behavioral responses to attitude objects. Journal of Social Issues, 25, 41-78.

    Google Scholar 

  • Williams, K. (1981). Few convictions in rape cases: Empirical evidence concerning some alternative explanations. Journal of Criminal Justice, 9, 23-36.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Amy M. Buddie.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Buddie, A.M., Miller, A.G. Beyond Rape Myths: A More Complex View of Perceptions of Rape Victims. Sex Roles 45, 139–160 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1013575209803

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1013575209803

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Social Psychology
  • Personal Belief
  • Rape Myth
  • Rape Victim