November 17, 1984

Attribution of responsibility for rape: The influence of observer empathy, victim resistance, and victim attractiveness

From abstract: "The purpose of the present study was to investigate the influence of a rape victim's physical attractiveness and resistance to rape on subjects' attributions of responsibility for the crime, certainty of the defendant's guilt, and social perceptions of the rape victim and defendant. Subjects' pretrial empathy toward rape victims and rapists was assessed by scores on the Rape Empathy Scale (RES). In addition to significant sex differences in attributions of responsibility for the incident, subjects' pretrial empathy toward rape victims and rapists was predictive of their perceptions of the rape victim, the defendant, and the rape incident. Victim resistance and attractiveness effects were significant in that subjects responded least favorably to the unattractive rape victim, particularly when she resisted the rape by fighting with her attacker. Male subjects and subjects who exhibited low empathy toward the rape victim were more responsive to subtle manipulations of victim resistance and attractiveness than were females and high RES subjects. Several explanations for these results focus on the cognitive and affective responses of subjects. The implications of the study are discussed in relation to societal attitudes toward rape and the role of sexrole stereotyping, which fosters these attitudes."
Creator
Sheila R. Deitz
Madeleine Littman
Brenda J. Bentley
Source
Sex Roles, Vol. 10, No. 3
Date
1984
Type
Article
Date Added November 14, 2016
Date Modifed October 17, 2017
Collection UVA scholarship on sexual violence, 1974-

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