Rape victim and perpetrator blame and the Just World hypothesis: The influence of victim gender and age.

Journal of Sexual Aggression 01/2012; DOI: 10.1080/13552600.2012.683455

ABSTRACT Victims of rape are sometimes blamed for the assaults against them. Research has examined primarily female victims; much less is known about men as victims and whether victim age affects attributions of victim blame. Furthermore, the study investigated the effects of Belief in a Just World (BJW) on blame attributions. Employing a vignette-type experimental study with a 2 (gender of participant)×2 (victim's gender)×2 (victim's age)×2 (participant BJW score) between-subjects design and several measures of blame attributions towards victim and perpetrator as dependent variables, a community sample (n = 164) participated. The main results were as hypothesised, namely that young male victims were attributed more blame, particularly by participants scoring high on BJW. Overall, victim blame level was low and perpetrator blame was high, and BJW was a powerful predictor of blame attributions.

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    ABSTRACT: Purpose. The blaming of rape victims can cause secondary victimization. It is of importance to investigate factor that might lead to victim blaming. This study investigated the effect of belief in a just world (BJW), gender of participant, and level of relationship closeness between victim and perpetrator on attributions of both victim and perpetrator blame. Methods. In a between-subjects experiment, a community sample (N= 166) answered questions of victim blame and perpetrator blame after reading one of four scenarios, each depicting a different level of relationship between the victim and the perpetrator (strangers, acquaintances, dating, or married). Results. Overall, high levels of perpetrator blame and low levels of victim blame were found. Contrary to previous research, the victim of a stranger rape was blamed more than when the perpetrator was known to the victim. Furthermore, participants high on BJW attributed higher levels of victim blame and lower levels of perpetrator blame. Specifically, female participants high on BJW attributed most blame to a victim of stranger rape. Conclusions. In conclusion, BJW was a significant predictor of blame attributions, and relationship type is a variable that merits further research.
    Legal and Criminological Psychology 01/2012; in press. · 1.67 Impact Factor


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May 30, 2014