By Alexis Marbach on February 28, 2012 · tagged as , , ,

New research: “Predicting Perceptions of Date Rape”

This month the Journal of Interpersonal Violence published “Predicting Perceptions of Date Rape: An Examination of Perpetrator Motivation, Relationship Length, and Gender Role Beliefs”, a study conducted by David Angelone, PhD, Damon Mitchell PhD, and Lauren Lucente, BA. As many of us who work in the field of sexual violence prevention and intervention know, rape victims are often scrutinized by their peers, families, friends, and the criminal justice system. This study carefully examined how knowledge of the perpetrator’s motivation and the previous relationship between the victim and the perpetrator would influence the way that male and female college student’s viewed both the victim and the perpetrator. The current study “suggests that knowledge of the offender motivation legitimized the victim as the aggrieved party rather than excusing the perpetrator’s behavior”. 

The study looked at both situational and observational variables. Situational variables refer to the personal characteristics of the victim and perpetrator and the environmental context in which the sexual assault occurred. The authors state, “In general, the closer the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator (e.g., marital vs. acquaintance vs. stranger) the more likely observers are to perceived the assault as consensual and the less likely they are to view the incident as a serious concern (Monson, Byrd, & Langhinrichesen-Rohling, 1996).” Observer variables are personal characteristics of the study participants, such as gender and gender role attitudes.

To learn more, visit the Journal of Intimate Partner Violence.

“Predicting Perceptions of Date Rape: An Examination of Perpetrator Motivation, Relationship Length, and Gender Role Beliefs”

David J. Angelone, PhD, Damon Mitchell, PhD, Lauren Lucente, BA

Published online before print, on February 10, 2012, doi:10.1177/0886260512436385

Abstract: The purpose of the current study is to examine the influence of multiple offender motivations (including no indication of a motivation), relationship length, and gender role beliefs on perceptions of a male-on-female date rape. A sample of 348 U.S. college students read a brief vignette depicting a date rape and completed a questionnaire regarding their attributions about the victim (culpability, credibility, trauma, pleasure) and perpetrator (culpability, guilt, sentencing recommendations). Results indicate that providing observers with information about the perpetrator’s motivation was associated with lower victim blame. Relationship length is not predictive of rape attributions. Egalitarian gender role attitudes are associated with lower levels of victim blame. Overall, gender role attitudes exert a more significant influence on rape attributions than participant gender. The findings suggest that knowledge of an offender’s motivation as well as observers’ gender role attitudes can influence attributions about the culpability of victims and perpetrators of date rape.

Alexis Marbach

More Posts by Alexis Marbach

Alexis Marbach joined CALCASA in July 2011 and is currently the Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator in the Prevention Department and a Public Policy Advocate. She has been working in the field of sexual violence prevention since 2002 as a prevention educator, group facilitator, and researcher. Alexis is committed to developing and promoting comprehensive, culturally competent primary prevention initiatives to reduce sexual violence.

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