Women lie and other myths : how rape myths impact attributions of blame in a rape case
Klement, Kathryn Rebecca
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Previous research has indicated a consistent link between rape myth acceptance and sexual assault victim blaming, where individuals reporting higher levels of rape myth acceptance also report higher levels of victim blaming. To this point, however, this relationship has only been explored correlationally. The current studies were designed to test whether participants, if presented with rape myth information or with accurate information about rape, would report higher levels of victim blaming or lower levels of victim blaming, respectively. In six studies, I manipulated victim and assailant gender (Studies 1a, 1b, and 2: female victim, male assailant; Studies 3a, 3b, and 4: male victim, female assailant) and rape myth information (Studies 1a and 1b: women often lie about rape; Studies 2 and 4: real rape is perpetrated by strangers and is violent; Studies 3a and 3b: men's erections signal consent). Participants read scenarios of a sexual assault case and were randomly assigned to a control condition, a rape myth information condition, or an accurate information condition; they also reported their level of rape myth acceptance (congruent with the gender of victim). Across all studies, there were no consistent effects of condition, though participants' rape myth acceptance often predicted the dependent variables. Moderation analyses indicated that in some cases, rape myth acceptance moderated the relationship between condition and dependent variable. I discuss the implications for the lack of effects of the manipulations, particularly in light of designing interventions to reduce sexual violence.