Accusers Lie and Other Myths: Rape Myth Acceptance Predicts Judgments Made About Accusers and Accused Perpetrators in a Rape Case
- 913 Downloads
Previous research results have yielded a consistent link between rape myth acceptance and sexual assault victim blaming: Individuals reporting higher levels of rape myth acceptance also report higher levels of victim blaming. In four studies we explored whether the presentation of rape-myth confirming information or rape-myth debunking information might moderate these tendencies. In these studies, U.S. undergraduates (97 in Study 1, 84 in Study 2, 98 in Study 3, and 116 in Study 4) read scenarios of a heterosexual sexual assault case and were randomly assigned to a control condition, a rape myth confirmation condition, or a rape myth debunking condition; they also reported the extent to which they endorsed or accepted rape myths. Rape myth acceptance robustly correlated with judgments made about accusers and accused rapists regardless whether the accuser/accused pairing was female/male (Studies 1 and 2) or male/female (Studies 3 and 4). For example, those who most strongly endorsed rape myths were also likely to disbelieve accusers. There were few instances indicating that the presentation of rape myth confirming information or rape myth debunking information moderated these effects. This lack of moderation occurred regardless of whether the information came from trial lawyers or from expert witnesses in the case. The relative impotence of the information presentations could be due to several factors (e.g., entrenched nature of rape myth acceptance, psychological reactance, timing and strength of manipulation), and we suggest ideas for how to overcome this relative impotence in future research.
KeywordsRape Rape myth acceptance Sexual violence Victim blaming
We would like to thank Kristen Myers for her conceptual input and support. Some of the findings reported here were presented at the January 2017 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Meeting.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest
The authors acknowledge that none has any conflict of interest regarding this manuscript.
Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals
All research studies were subject to approval and oversight by the Institutional Review Board at Northern Illinois University.
All participants were given and affirmed informed consent prior to participating in this research.
- Black, M. C., Basile, K. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., … Stevens, M. R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 summary report. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_executive_summary-a.pdf.
- Bless, H., & Schwarz, N. (2010). Mental construal and the emergence of assimilation and contrast effects: The inclusion/exclusion model. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 42, pp. 319–373). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Bohner, G., & Dickel, N. (2011). Attitudes and attitude change. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 391–417. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.121208.131609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Borgida, E., & Nisbett, R. E. (1977). The differential impact of abstract vs. concrete information on decisions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 7, 258–271. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.1977.tb00750.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Basile, K. C., Walters, M. L., Chen, J., & Merrick, M. T. (2014). Prevalence and characteristics of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence victimization–National Intimate Partner and sexual violence survey, United States, 2011. Surveillance Summaries, 63, 1–18. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6308a1.htm.Google Scholar
- Hale, M. (1847). The history of the pleas of the crown (1st American ed., Vol. 1). Philadelphia: Robert H. Small.Google Scholar
- Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Klement, K. R. (2017). Women lie and other myths: How rape myths impact attributions of blame in a rape case (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). DeKalb: Northern Illinois University.Google Scholar
- Klement, K. R. (2018, April). Expectations of resistance to sexual assault: Female vs. male victims. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern psychological association, Chicago.Google Scholar
- Kovera, M. B., Gresham, A. W., Borgida, E., Gray, E., & Regan, P. C. (1997). Does expert psychological testimony inform or influence juror decision making? A social cognitive analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82, 78–191.Google Scholar
- Krakauer, J. (2015). Missoula: Rape and the justice system in a college town. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
- Lonsway, K. A., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (1994). Rape myths: In review. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 133–164. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1994.tb00448.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lonsway, K. A., Banyard, V. L., Berkowitz, A. D., Gidycz, C. A., Katz, J. L., Ross, M. P., … Edwards, D. (2009). Rape prevention and risk reduction: Review of the research literature for practitioners. VAWnet. Retrieved from https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1161&context=psych_facpub.
- Mallenbaum, C., Ryan, P., & Puente, M. (2018, April 27). A complete list of the 60 Bill Cosby accusers and their reactions to the guilty verdict. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2018/04/27/bill-cosby-full-list-accusers/555144002/.
- Malone, N. (2015, July 26). “I’m no longer afraid”: 35 women tell their stories about being assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the culture that wouldn’t listen. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/07/bill-cosbys-accusers-speak-out.html.
- McKimmie, B. M., Masser, B. M., & Bongiorno, R. (2014). What counts as rape? The effect of offense prototypes, victim stereotypes, and participant gender on how the complainant and defendant are perceived. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29, 2273–2303. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260513518843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Melanson, P. S. K. (1999). Belief in male rape myths: A test of two competing theories. Retrieved from http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk2/tape15/PQDD_0003/NQ31935.pdf.
- Parrott, C. T., Neal, T. M. S., Wilson, J. K., & Brodsky, S. L. (2015). Differences in expert witness knowledge: Do mock jurors notice and does it matter? Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 43, 69–81.Google Scholar
- Paul, L. A., Kehn, A., Gray, M. J., & Salapska-Gelleri, J. (2014). Perceptions of, and assistance provided to, a hypothetical rape victim: Differences between rape disclosure recipients and nonrecipients. Journal of American College Health, 62, 426–433. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2014.917651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rape Abuse, and Incest National Network. (2016). The criminal justice system: Statistics. https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system.
- Sussenbach, P., Eyssel, F., & Bohner, G. (2013). Metacognitive aspects of rape myths: Subjective strength of rape myth acceptance moderates its effects on information processing and behavioral intentions. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28, 2250–2272. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260512475317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Temkin, J., & Krahe, B. (2008). Sexual assault and the justice gap: A question of attitude. Portland: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
- van der Bruggen, M., & Grubb, A. (2014). A review of the literature related to rape victim blaming: An analysis of the impact of observer and victim characteristics on attribution of blame in rape cases. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 19, 523–531. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2014.07.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Will, G. F. (2014, June 6). George Will: Colleges become the victims of progressivism. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-will-college-become-the-victims-of-progressivism/2014/06/06/e90e73b4-eb50-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html.