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Br J Soc Psychol. 1992 Dec;31 ( Pt 4):307-26.

Judgements about victims and attackers in depicted rapes: a review.

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Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.


This paper reviews the effects on subjects' judgements of a variety of factors that have been included in experimental depictions of rape. The focus is on attribution of responsibility or fault to the victim or attacker and related judgements, particularly regarding guilt and sanctions. Generally, females make more pro-victim judgements than do males, and people with non-traditional sex-role attitudes make more pro-victim judgements than do holders of more traditional views. Other factors covered are various victim characteristics, victim-attacker acquaintance, resistance, and victim attire and a range of behaviours prior to the attack. These are limits to generalization due to populations studied and methods used, and the observed effects of several factors are either minimal or inconsistent. However, some factors have reliable effects on judgements, which it is argued are explainable in terms of their link with traditional beliefs about women's rights and roles. Males have often been found to be more susceptible to these effects. In particular, it appears that if a female engages in any behaviour deemed to be 'incautious' that results in victimization then she may be perceived to be at fault, even though these behaviours would be 'legitimate' for males, and that prior romantic involvement with the attacker mitigates the perceived seriousness of, and may even be seen as supplying justification for, a sexual attack. The existence of these attitudes implies that rape may be tacitly condoned in many situations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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