Objectification and System Justification Impact Rape Avoidance Behaviors
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There is little recent research on women’s adoption of rape avoidance behaviors, and there has been no known investigation into how adoption of these behaviors relates to various system justification beliefs or experiences of sexual objectification. We surveyed 294 U.S. women aged 18 to 40 to assess experiences of objectification, belief in a just world, gender-specific system justification, benevolent sexism, rape myth acceptance, and engagement in rape avoidance behaviors. Belief in a just world, gender-specific system justification, and benevolent sexism were conceptualized and analyzed as a “system justification” latent factor due to similarities between constructs regarding how they influence worldview, particularly regarding fairness and relations between dominant and subordinate groups. Our hypothesized model had good fit to the data and illustrated that experiencing objectification was related to increased rape myth acceptance and system justification, which, in turn, were related to implementation of rape avoidance behaviors. Further, system justification was significantly positively related to rape myth acceptance. Results show the continued importance of understanding the role of objectification in the endorsement of rape myths and assessments of societal fairness, as well as how women’s attitudes about society may ultimately affect their assessment of rape myths and their personal behavior. This research provides new information and groundwork for researchers developing rape education programming in addition to those interested in the complex relationship between women’s experiences and behavioral outcomes.
KeywordsSexual objectification System justification Belief in a just world Benevolent sexism Rape myth acceptance
This research was supported in part by a Psi Chi/Council of Undergraduate Research Summer Research Grant awarded to the authors.
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