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Perceptions of stranger and acquaintance rape: The role of benevolent and hostile sexism in victim blame and rape proclivity

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In Studies 1 and 2, after reading an acquaintance-rape but not a stranger-rape scenario, higher benevolent sexist but not hostile sexist participants blamed the victim significantly more. In Study 2, higher hostile sexist but not benevolent sexist male participants showed significantly greater proclivity to commit acquaintance (but not stranger) rape. Studies 3 and 4 supported the hypothesis that the effects of benevolent sexism and hostile sexism are mediated by different perceptions of the victim, as behaving inappropriately and as really wanting sex with the rapist. These findings show that benevolent sexism and hostile sexism underpin different assumptions about women that generate sexist reactions toward rape victims.
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Perceptions of Stranger and Acquaintance Rape: The Role of Benevolent
and Hostile Sexism in Victim Blame and Rape Proclivity
Dominic Abrams and G. Tendayi Viki
University of Kent
Barbara Masser
University of Queensland
Gerd Bohner
Universita¨t Bielefeld
In Studies 1 and 2, after reading an acquaintance-rape but not a stranger-rape scenario, higher benevolent
sexist but not hostile sexist participants blamed the victim significantly more. In Study 2, higher hostile
sexist but not benevolent sexist male participants showed significantly greater proclivity to commit
acquaintance (but not stranger) rape. Studies 3 and 4 supported the hypothesis that the effects of
benevolent sexism and hostile sexism are mediated by different perceptions of the victim, as behaving
inappropriately and as really wanting sex with the rapist. These findings show that benevolent sexism and
hostile sexism underpin different assumptions about women that generate sexist reactions toward rape
victims.
Feminist writers have proposed that rape and sexual violence
function as tools of social control through which men keep women
in a state of fear (Brownmiller, 1975; also see Griffin, 1979). The
anxiety that results from the fear of sexual assault is argued to limit
women’s freedom of movement and make them more dependent
on men for access to public places (Day, 1995; Riger & Gordon,
1981). Griffin (1979) observed that the fear of rape “keeps women
at home. Keeps women passive and modest for fear that they be
thought provocative” (p. 21). Consistent with this argument, em-
pirical research has shown that a large proportion of women avoid
going out alone late at night or going to certain places in their
neighborhood because of the fear of being sexually assaulted
(Gordon & Riger, 1989; Mirrlees-Black & Allen, 1998; Riger &
Gordon, 1981; Warr, 1985). Studies have also indicated that read-
ing a newspaper article about a rape lowers the self-esteem and
positive affect of nonraped women (Bohner, Weisbrod, Raymond,
Barzvi, & Schwarz, 1993; Schwarz & Brand, 1983). Thus, rape
and the threat of rape appear to affect women’s lives in the manner
predicted by feminist theorists.
In addition to examinations of the effects of sexual violence at
a societal level, a fruitful line of research has been the investigation
of individuals’ levels of rape myth endorsement (Burt, 1980). Rape
myths are stereotypical beliefs about rape “that put women at a
disadvantage” (Bohner & Schwarz, 1996, p. 163). Lonsway and
Fitzgerald (1994, 1995) as well as Bohner (1998) have argued that
rape myths are not necessarily defined by the extent to which they
represent empirical facts but rather can be defined by the particular
cultural functions they serve. As such, rape myths can be defined
as “descriptive or prescriptive beliefs about rape (i.e. about its
causes, context, consequences, perpetrators, victims and their in-
teraction) that serve to deny, trivialize or justify sexual violence
exerted by men against women” (Bohner, 1998, p. 14). Bohner
(1998) further differentiated between general and gender-specific
functions of rape myths. At a general level, rape myth acceptance
may be seen as a special case of the belief in a just world (Lerner,
1980). By believing that good things happen to good people and
bad things happen only to bad people, one may maintain an
illusion of the justice and predictability of one’s subjective world.
Indeed, rape myth acceptance has been found to correlate posi-
tively with the general belief in a just world (Bohner, 1998).
Furthermore, the myth that only certain women are likely to be
raped (those who behave indecently or show other moral deficits)
functions to obscure and deny the personal vulnerability of all
women (Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1994). Rape myth acceptance may
thus protect women from negative feelings. Consistent with this
reasoning, Bohner and his colleagues (e.g., Bohner, Siebler, &
Raaijmakers, 1999; Bohner et al., 1993) have shown that women
who were low in rape myth acceptance reported lowered self-
esteem and affect after reading reports about rape, whereas women
who were high in rape myth acceptance were not negatively
affected by these reports. Finally, it has been proposed that for
men, rape myths may serve as “psychological releasers or neutral-
izers” (Burt, 1978, p. 282) for sexually aggressive behavior. For
Dominic Abrams and G. Tendayi Viki, Department of Psychology,
Centre for the Study of Group Processes, University of Kent, Canterbury,
England; Barbara Masser, School of Psychology, University of Queens-
land, Brisbane, Australia; Gerd Bohner, Department of Psychology, Uni-
versita¨t Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany.
Preparation of this article was facilitated by the award of a postgraduate
studentship by the Beit Trust (England) to G. Tendayi Viki and by
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Grant BO 1248/4-1 to Gerd Bohner.
We are grateful to Peter Glick for his helpful comments on a version of this
article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dominic
Abrams or G. Tendayi Viki, Department of Psychology, Centre for the
Study of Group Processes, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NP,
England. E-mail: d.abrams@ukc.ac.uk or gtv1@ukc.ac.uk
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
2003, Vol. 84, No. 1, 111–125 0022-3514/03/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.1.111
111
example, rape myth acceptance in men is positively related to rape
proclivity (e.g., Malamuth, 1981; Malamuth & Check, 1985;
Quackenbush, 1989) and may even be a causal antecedent of a
tendency to engage in sexual violence (Bohner et al., 1998).
The present research examines both victim blame and rape
proclivity in relation to stranger rape and acquaintance rape. In
predicting these responses, we consider the role of rape myth
acceptance, but our main focus is on facets of sexist attitudes.
The Role of Sexist Attitudes in Responses
to Rape Victims
Researchers have conceptualized and measured sexist attitudes
in different ways. Sexism has typically been described as a unitary
hostility toward women (e.g., Spence & Helmreich, 1972), which
used to be expressed blatantly in the past but is now expressed in
more subtle ways because of recent social and political changes
(e.g., Tougas, Brown, Beaton, & Joly, 1995). However, these
conceptualizations neglect the subjectively positive feelings to-
ward women that characterize several sexist stereotypes. Although
it is clearly the case that women occupy disadvantaged social
positions in most societies (Glick et al., 2000; Sanday, 1981;
United Nations Development Programme, 1998), researchers have
also observed that, on some dimensions, women are more posi-
tively stereotyped in comparison with men (Eagly & Mladinic,
1993; Eagly, Mladinic, & Otto, 1991). Therefore, Glick and Fiske
(1996) proposed that sexism may not manifest as a unitary antip-
athy. Rather, hostile attitudes toward women may coexist with
subjectively positive, benevolent attitudes, potentially resulting in
ambivalent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 1996; Glick et al., 2000).
According to Glick and Fiske (1996), there are two complemen-
tary yet evaluatively different forms of sexist attitudes: hostile
sexism and benevolent sexism. Hostile sexism can be described as
the typical antipathy that is commonly assumed to characterize
sexist prejudices. In contrast, benevolent sexism is defined as a
set of interrelated attitudes toward women that are sexist in terms
of viewing women stereotypically and in restricted roles, but that
are subjectively positive in feeling tone (Glick & Fiske, 1996, p.
491). Glick and Fiske (1996) developed the Ambivalent Sexism
Inventory (ASI), which is a 22-item measure of individual differ-
ences in ambivalent sexism. Studies conducted using the ASI have
produced results consistent with the two hypothesized types of
sexism (i.e., benevolent sexism and hostile sexism; Glick & Fiske,
1996; Glick et al., 2000; Masser & Abrams, 1999). Furthermore,
despite the fact that the two subscales have opposing affective
connotations, responses to the Hostile Sexism and Benevolent
Sexism subscales have been reported to be positively correlated
(Glick & Fiske, 1996; Glick et al., 2000; Masser & Abrams, 1999).
Nevertheless, Glick and Fiske (1996) maintained that even if the
beliefs about women that generate hostile and benevolent sexism
are positively related, they have opposing evaluative implications,
fulfilling the literal meaning of ambivalence (p. 494).
Glick and Fiske (1996) proposed that ambivalent sexists recon-
cile their hostile and benevolent feelings by classifying women
into good and bad subcategories. Thus, benevolence is directed at
those women who conform to traditional roles, and hostility is
reserved for nonconforming feminists and career women (Glick,
Diebold, Bailey-Werner, & Zhu, 1997; Masser & Abrams, 2001).
In a series of studies, Glick et al. (1997) observed that benevolent
sexism predicted favorable feelings toward women in traditional
gender roles, whereas hostile sexism predicted negative feelings
toward women in nontraditional roles. As such, hostile and benev-
olent sexism can be viewed as complementary ideologies that
serve to maintain and justify male dominance over women (Glick
et al., 2000; Jackman, 1994). Of particular interest for the present
research is the similarity between this account of sexist ambiva-
lence and the earlier noted rape myths, which advocate the notion
that only bad girls are raped. This differentiation between good and
bad women appears to provide a means of justifying and/or ex-
cusing violent behaviors toward (some) women.
The Present Research
The present research investigates the role of hostile and benev-
olent sexism in responses to victims of rape. The exploration of
this question is important for two reasons. First, although Glick
and Fiske (1996) investigated the relationship between hostile and
benevolent sexism and rape myth acceptance, to our knowledge,
there are no reported studies that have explored the potential for
hostile and benevolent sexism to predict individual differences in
responses to rape scenarios. Second, the construct of rape myth
acceptance has been criticized for its failure to distinguish between
issues of stranger and acquaintance rape
1
(Payne, Lonsway, &
Fitzgerald, 1999). Findings from a number of studies have indi-
cated that these two types of rape elicit different responses from
external observers. For example, victims of acquaintance rape
have more blame attributed to them than do stranger rape victims
(Amir, 1971; Bridges & McGrail, 1989; LArmand & Pepitone,
1982; Pollard, 1992; Quackenbush, 1989; Tetreault & Barnett,
1987). It is interesting that no attempt has been made to account for
the observed differences in individuals responses to victims of
acquaintance and stranger rape within the theoretical context of
rape myth acceptance (Payne et al., 1999). Most of the items in
rape myth acceptance scales do not make reference to any specific
type of rape. As such, it is possible that respondents may have
different types of rape in mind when responding to the items
(Payne et al., 1999). Although rape myth acceptance scales have
been found to predict a wide range of responses to victims, it is
possible that the construct may be too broad to provide a mean-
ingful way to account for some of the reported variations in
individuals perceptions of different types of rape.
We propose that some of the observed differences in the blame
attributed to acquaintance and stranger rape victims can be ex-
plained in terms of benevolent sexism. This proposal is based, in
part, on Batemens (1991) observation that women are benevo-
lently stereotyped as guardians of sexuality (see also Glick &
Fiske, 1996; Jackman, 1994). Although this could be viewed as a
positive stereotype (i.e., women are more virtuous than men), such
perceptions also place most of the responsibility for sexual moral-
ity on women. For this reason, when accusations of sexual assault
are made, more attention may be paid to the relationship between
the victim and perpetrator and the behavior of the victim rather
than to the perpetrators intentions and nature of the act (Batemen,
1991; Weller, 1992). Weller (1992) as well as Bechhofer and
1
For purposes of this study, acquaintance rape was defined as sexual
assault by someone known to the victim (Bechhofer & Parrot, 1991).
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ABRAMS, VIKI, MASSER, AND BOHNER
Parrot (1991) noted that the exclusive focus on the behavior of the
victim often makes it difficult to prosecute acquaintance rape
cases. This is because acquaintance rapes often take place in
situations in which there is some potential for consensual sex,
whereas in stranger rapes, such potential is generally absent (Bech-
hofer & Parrot, 1991). Because women are viewed as guardians of
sexual morality, where there is potential for consensual sex (e.g.,
acquaintance rape), the outcome of the interaction may be per-
ceived as mostly determined by the behavior of the victim (Weller,
1992).
Individuals who are high in benevolent sexism strongly endorse
the belief that women are pure and special and should be protected.
However, such a belief also implies that women must behave in
ways that allow them to be protectable (cf. Glick et al., 1997).
Thus, in situations in which a woman can be perceived as violating
benevolently sexist expectations (i.e., an acquaintance rape case),
individuals who are high in benevolent sexism may perceive her as
no longer deserving of protection and respond to her negatively
(i.e., hold her responsible for the rape). This proposal is supported
by research studies that have investigated factors that influence
victim blame in rape cases. Krahe´ (1991) noted that the level of
social respectability of a rape victim seems to have a significant
influence on whether she is viewed as blameworthy. Researchers
have reported that both legal practitioners and laypersons attribute
blame to rape victims on the basis of extralegal factors such as
clothing (Johnson, 1995; Vali & Rizzo, 1991), alcohol consump-
tion (Corcoran & Thomas, 1991; Scronce & Corcoran, 1995), and
whether the victim has had multiple sex partners in the past (Marx
& Gross, 1995). For example, Cassidy and Hurrell (1995) had
participants read a vignette depicting a date rape. The vignette was
accompanied either by a photograph of a victim dressed provoc-
atively or by a picture of a victim dressed conservatively. Partic-
ipants who viewed the photograph of a provocatively dressed
victim were more likely to hold the victim responsible for her
assailants behavior than were participants who viewed a conser-
vatively dressed victim. Such findings suggest that responses to
rape victims may be influenced by sexist norms that prescribe
appropriate behavior and roles for women within intimate relation-
ships. It therefore seems reasonable to hypothesize that individuals
who endorse such beliefs (high benevolent sexists) are more likely
to attribute responsibility to victims who may be viewed as vio-
lating traditional gender role expectations (i.e., acquaintance rape
victims).
We also further explore the possibility that negative responses to
rape victims can serve different functions. Above, we have dis-
cussed the general function of maintaining the traditional status
quo in gender relations and a more specific function of serving as
justifications and rationalizations for violent behavioral inclina-
tions (i.e., rape proclivity; Bohner et al., 1998). Although these two
functions may be related, they appear to be driven by different sets
of motivations, and we believe they should be associated predom-
inantly, if not exclusively, with different aspects of sexism. In
particular, we think that blaming of victims and rape proclivity will
be related distinctly to benevolent and hostile sexism, respectively.
We propose that, to the extent that individuals are mostly
concerned with maintaining traditional gender relations, they are
more likely to blame the victim by making reference to benevo-
lently sexist ideals concerning malefemale relationships. This
idea can be viewed as similar to Lerners (1980) notion of just
world beliefs in that any such notions of justice are based on some
belief about what constitutes the appropriate behavior to be re-
warded in a fair world. For people who endorse traditional gender
role relationships, women who enter a relationship with a man may
be viewed as inviting sexual attention and therefore may be held
responsible for anything that happens to them.
There is research evidence to suggest that the acceptance of
interpersonal violence, as indicated by the self-reported proclivity
to engage in sexual aggression, and adversarial sexual beliefs may
be linked to hostile attitudes toward women (see Lonsway &
Fitzgerald, 1995) and, specifically, that individuals who are high in
rape proclivity may be motivated to rationalize their violent incli-
nations (Bohner et al., 1998). Therefore, individuals who are
inclined to engage in sexual aggression seem particularly likely to
endorse hostile sexist beliefs (e.g., Many women get a kick out of
teasing men by seeming sexually available and then refusing male
advances) to justify their own behavioral inclinations. The link
between hostile attitudes toward women and the proclivity to
commit sexual assault has been demonstrated by studies that have
shown a significant link among rape myth acceptance, adversarial
sexual beliefs, and proclivity (e.g., Bohner et al., 1998; Malamuth,
1981). As already noted, researchers have found that individuals
who are high in rape myth acceptance report a higher likelihood of
committing sexual offenses (e.g., Malamuth, 1981; Malamuth &
Check, 1985; Quackenbush, 1989). Studies examining rape pro-
clivity use self-report measures for which there are important
concerns about participants responding in a socially desirable
manner. However, Malamuth (1981) argued that empirical studies
have found that self-report measures of proclivity are related to
participants responses on other measures (e.g., rape myth accep-
tance and adversarial sexual beliefs) in the theoretically expected
manner. Such hostile attitudes and beliefs may be particularly
manifest in situations in which they may be viewed as justifiable
(Rudman & Glick, 1999; cf. Gaertner & Dovido, 1986). Thus, in
situations in which the malevolent intent of the man may be less
clear (e.g., acquaintance rape), the relationship between hostility
toward women and rape proclivity should be especially strong.
Such a finding would also be consistent with Glick and Fiskes
(1996) idea that hostile sexism is more likely to be expressed
toward nonconforming women.
Our predictions regarding the specific effects of benevolent
sexism on victim blame and of hostile sexism on rape proclivity
under acquaintance rape (but not stranger rape) conditions are well
in line with more general theorizing on the effects of attitudes on
information processing. Several researchers have proposed that
attitudes may guide information processing, serving both heuristic
and schematic functions (for a discussion, see Pratkanis, 1989).
For example, attitudes have been shown to bias the interpretation,
explanation, elaboration, and recall of information (e.g., Hastorf &
Cantril, 1954; Lord, Ross, & Lepper, 1979; Ross, McFarland, &
Fletcher, 1981; Schaller, 1992). It is important to note that limiting
conditions for these influences have also been identified. One
important factor is applicability. For an attitudinal structure to
guide information processing, its content needs to be applicable to
the judgmental task; for example, an individual may infer a con-
servative politicians attitude toward gun control using his or her
own attitude along with his or her political affiliation (e.g., Gran-
berg, 1985). Another important factor is the degree of ambiguity of
the external information. Attitudes are much more likely to influ-
113
SEXISM AND PERCEPTIONS OF RAPE
ence processing and judgment if external inputs are ambiguous
rather than clear in their implications (e.g., Hastorf & Cantril,
1954; Lord et al., 1979; Ross, McFarland, Conway, & Zanna,
1983). It therefore seems likely that people who hold sexist atti-
tudes are more likely to apply them to a relevant domain when
external information is more ambiguous (i.e., in an acquaintance
rape situation) than when it is unambiguous (i.e., in a stranger rape
scenario). As argued earlier, we believe that benevolent sexism
may be relevant to judgments of blame, whereas hostile sexism
may be more relevant to judgments of rape proclivity, and it
therefore seems that these attitudejudgment links should be man-
ifested more strongly in the acquaintance rape scenario.
To address the issues raised above, we conducted four studies.
In Study 1, male and female participants were exposed to vignettes
containing either an acquaintance rape or a stranger rape scenario.
Participants responses to the rape scenarios (i.e., victim blame)
were assessed with reference to their levels of rape myth accep-
tance, hostile sexism, and benevolent sexism. In Study 2, which
involved only male participants, we introduced an additional de-
pendent variable, rape proclivity.
Our first hypothesis, in line with previous research, was that
there should be a significant effect of type of rape (stranger vs.
acquaintance). Participants were expected to attribute more blame
to the victim of the acquaintance rape than to the victim of the
stranger rape and to report a higher proclivity (in Study 2) for
acquaintance rape. We predicted independent relationships be-
tween benevolent sexism and blame and between hostile sexism
and rape proclivity. Specifically, we thought all participants would
react similarly to the stranger rape (because it is clearly and legally
defined as wrong). However, we expected differences between
high and low levels of sexism to be manifested in reactions to
acquaintance rape.
Our second hypothesis concerned victim blame and benevolent
sexism. In Studies 1 and 2, we expected that, because of their
higher concern for traditional gender roles, individuals who were
high in benevolent sexism would attribute more blame to the
victim of an acquaintance rape than would individuals who were
low in benevolent sexism. We did not anticipate a parallel effect of
hostile sexism.
Our third hypothesis concerned rape proclivity (measured in
Study 2) and hostile sexism. We expected that, because of their
more adversarial orientation to women, men who were higher in
hostile sexism would report a higher proclivity for acquaintance
rape but not for stranger rape. We did not anticipate a parallel
effect of benevolent sexism.
For both victim blame and rape proclivity, we did not expect any
interaction between benevolent and hostile sexism, because we
assume that both function independently to affect reactions to rape
victims. Finally, because of the assumed robustness of the con-
struct, we did not expect rape myth acceptance to interact with type
of rape for any of the dependent variables in either study.
The final two studies (Studies 3 and 4) focus exclusively on the
acquaintance rape scenario and were conducted to establish the
psychological process underlying the effects observed in Studies 1
and 2. In Study 3, we explored why individuals who are high in
benevolent sexism may attribute more blame to the acquaintance
rape victim in comparison with low benevolent sexism individuals.
We expected individuals who were high in benevolent sexism to
attribute more blame to the acquaintance rape victim because they
perceived the victims behavior to be inappropriate for a woman
(i.e., traditional gender role expectations). Study 4 investigates
why high hostile sexist individuals may report a higher proclivity
for acquaintance rape in comparison with low hostile sexist indi-
viduals. We predicted that individuals who were high in hostile
sexism would report a greater proclivity for acquaintance rape
because they would perceive the victim as really wanting to
engage in sexual intercourse and only offering token resistance so
as to appear chaste (i.e., adversarial sexual beliefs). In this study,
we also explore the possibility that the relationship between hostile
sexism and proclivity is mediated by participants perceptions that
the perpetrator was led on by the victim.
Study 1
Method
Participants
Sixty-five students (31 men, 34 women) from a medium-sized university
in the southeast of England volunteered to participate. Participants ages
ranged from 19 to 44 years, with 85% of the sample being younger than 26
years (M 24.31, SD 5.83). Of the participants, 80.0% were classified
as European, 18.7% were classified as Asian or African, and 2.4% were
classified as other.
Design
The study used a between-subjects design, with type of rape (acquain-
tance vs. stranger) as the independent variable and victim blame as the
dependent variable. Participants were randomly assigned to read either the
acquaintance rape (n 34) or the stranger rape scenario (n 31). The
acquaintance rape vignette described a story of a woman (Kathy) who went
to a party where she met and got acquainted with a man named Jason. Later
that night she invited him to her apartment, where, after she had kissed
Jason first, he subsequently raped her. The scenario was described as
follows:
Jason and Kathy met and got acquainted at a party thrown by a mutual
friend. Since they had a lot in common, they spent the night laughing,
dancing, talking and flirting with each other. At the end of the party,
Kathy invited Jason over to her apartment to talk some more and have
coffee. When they got to her room, Kathy started kissing and caress-
ing Jason. Jason then grabbed Kathy and tried to take her clothes off
in order to have sex with her. At this point Kathy pushed him away
and asked him to stop. However, Jason did not listen to her, and
instead used force to hold her down and eventually penetrated her.
In contrast, the stranger rape vignette described a story of a woman
(Kathy) who was approached and attacked by a man (Jason) while she was
walking home from a restaurant:
After meeting her friends for coffee one evening, Kathy left the
restaurant and began walking towards her apartment. As she was
walking, she was approached by a man who introduced himself as
Jason and asked if he could walk her home. Kathy politely declined
the offer. However, Jason insisted on walking her, stating that it
wasnt safe for a woman to walk home on her own. Kathy just ignored
him and carried on walking. Jason didnt take the hint, and kept
walking alongside Kathy, asking her for her name and phone number.
When they got to an unlit part of the street, Jason grabbed Kathy and
tried to take her clothes off in order to have sex with her. At this point,
Kathy pushed him away and asked him to stop. However, Jason did
114
ABRAMS, VIKI, MASSER, AND BOHNER
not listen to her and instead used force hold her down and eventually
penetrated her.
Measures
Seven items measured the extent to which participants held the rape
victim responsible for the event. These were as follows: How much do
you think Kathy should blame herself for what happened?”“How much
control do you think Kathy had over the situation?”“How much control do
you think Jason had over the situation?”“How much do you agree Kathy
should not have invited Jason over [or walked with Jason] if she did not
want to have sex with him?”“Do you think this incident could have been
avoided?”“Whose fault do you think it is, that things turned out the way
they did? and How much sympathy do you feel for Kathy? A 7-point
scale accompanied all questions measuring the dependent variable (1 not
at all to 7 completely or totally,or1 Jason to 7 Kathy).
The following scales were also included in the questionnaire and ad-
ministered to all participants, who were required to respond on a 7-point
Likert-type scale (1 strongly disagree to 7 strongly agree).
ASI. The ASI is a 22-item inventory measuring individual levels of
ambivalent sexism. It consists of two 11-item subscales (Hostile and
Benevolent Sexism). The inventory comprises mainly statements concern-
ing malefemale relationships, to which participants have to indicate their
level of agreement. Examples of items are Women seek to gain power by
getting control over men (Hostile Sexism) and Women should be cher-
ished and protected by men (Benevolent Sexism).
Rape Myth Acceptance Scale. The Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (R
Scale; Costin, 1985) is a 20-item instrument measuring individual levels of
rape myth endorsement. Participants are required to indicate their level of
agreement with statements such as Women often provoke rape through
their appearance or behavior. This scale has been used in a number of
studies (e.g., Bohner et al., 1993, 1998; Costin & Schwarz, 1987) and has
well-established reliability and validity attributes (see Bohner, 1998).
Impression Management Scale. The Impression Management Scale
(IM Scale; Paulhus, 1991) is a 20-item measure of individuals need to
present themselves in a socially desirable manner. Those 8 items that had
been found to have the highest itemtotal correlations in a pilot study were
selected for use.
2
An example item is I dont gossip about other peoples
business.
Procedure
All participants were approached while they were studying in a library
and asked if they would complete a questionnaire on gender relations.
Those individuals who volunteered to participate were handed a question-
naire containing either an acquaintance rape or a stranger rape scenario.
Participants were then left to complete the questionnaire on their own (in
private). The questionnaire was arranged so that participants read the
scenario describing the rape before responding to the questions examining
victim blame. After completing this part of the questionnaire, participants
were required to respond to the ASI, the R Scale, and the IM Scale. The
experimenter then returned to thank and debrief the participants before
collecting the completed questionnaires.
Results
Preliminary Analyses
Principal-components analysis with a varimax rotation was used
to assess the structure of the dependent measure. All six items
assessing victim blame loaded on one interpretable factor (load-
ings ranged from .32 to .86). These items were averaged to provide
a victim blame score for each participant. The items How much
control do you think Jason had over the situation? and How
much sympathy do you feel for Kathy? were reverse coded before
the composite scores were calculated. The composite measure was
reliable (
.75). The internal consistencies of the remaining
measures were also acceptable (IM Scale,
.65; R Scale,
.84;
Hostile Sexism,
.89; Benevolent Sexism,
.88). Prelimi-
nary analyses also showed that gender did not have any significant
main or interaction effects (with benevolent sexism, hostile sex-
ism, or rape myth acceptance) on the dependent variable (all ps
.20). Therefore, gender is not discussed in further analyses.
3
Correlation analyses were performed to assess the relationships
among all the measures used in this study (see Table 1). This
yielded significant zero-order correlations among all the measures
(all ps .001), the highest being between hostile and benevolent
sexism (r .66). This finding is in line with previous studies that
have also reported a substantial positive relationship between
benevolent and hostile sexism (e.g., Glick et al., 2000; Masser &
Abrams, 1999). We conducted multiple regression analyses to
assess whether our predictor variables had independent relation-
ships with the dependent variable (victim blame).
Victim Blame
To analyze the impact of type of rape and benevolent sexism, we
used hierarchical regression analysis. All variables were centered
prior to analysis (Jaccard, Turirsi, & Wann, 1990, p. 17). In the
first step, type of rape and benevolent sexism were entered, and the
interaction term (Benevolent Sexism Type of Rape) was entered
in the second step. Significant main effects for type of rape and
benevolent sexism were obtained (see beta coefficients in Table 2).
In line with our first hypothesis, more blame was attributed to the
acquaintance rape victim than to the stranger rape victim (M 3.18,
SD 1.07; and M 2.28, SD 0.85, respectively). The signif-
icant positive relationship between benevolent sexism and victim
blame indicates that the higher an individuals score on the Benev-
olent Sexism subscale was, the more they blamed the rape victim.
These main effects were qualified by a significant interaction
between benevolent sexism and type of rape. Moreover, this in-
teraction effect remained significant after the effects of impression
management, hostile sexism, and rape myth acceptance were ac-
counted for (pr
.33,
.83), t(58) 2.68, p .01. Simple
effects analyses revealed different relationship patterns between
benevolent sexism and victim blame for the different types of
rape.
4
In the stranger rape condition, the relationship between
benevolent sexism and victim blame was not significant (
.11),
t(29) 0.56. In contrast, there was a significant relationship
between victim blame and benevolent sexism in the acquaintance
2
Further details of the pilot study can be obtained from G. Tendayi Viki.
The reduced impression management scale correlates with the full scale
significantly (r .90, p .001). For all the measures in Studies 1 and 3,
the difference between reliability coefficients among different conditions
and different genders was less than .10.
3
This finding is consistent with Jost and Banajis (1994) argument that
disadvantaged groups may adopt the system-justifying beliefs of dominant
groups (cf. Glick & Fiske, 1996).
4
All simple effects analyses for Study 1 were conducted using the
following formula: t (b
1
at X
2
)/s(b
1
at X
2
), where X
2
is the value of
second predictor at which the effects of the first predictor on the criterion
are being tested (Jaccard, Turrisi, & Wan, 1990, p. 28).
115
SEXISM AND PERCEPTIONS OF RAPE
rape condition (
.61), t(32) 4.41, p .001. This pattern of
results is consistent with our second hypothesis. As shown in
Figure 1, the higher an individuals score on the Benevolent
Sexism subscale was, the more he or she blamed the victim of an
acquaintance rape.
Our thesis specifically argues that benevolent sexism predicts
blame independently of any effects of hostile sexism. To examine
this explicitly, we performed a full analysis of variance (ANOVA)
type regression model. Rape myth acceptance and social desirabil-
ity were entered in the first step. In the second step, hostile sexism,
benevolent sexism, and type of rape were entered. The interaction
terms Hostile Sexism Type of Rape, Benevolent Sexism Type
of Rape, and Benevolent Sexism Hostile Sexism were entered in
the third step. In the final step, the interaction term Benevolent
Sexism Hostile Sexism Type of Rape was entered. Consistent
with our predictions that benevolent sexism would have a distinct
and independent impact, only the interaction between benevolent
sexism and type of rape approached significance (pr .25,
.78), t(54) 1.93, p .057. No other significant interaction
effects were obtained (all ps .16). Furthermore, once rape myth
acceptance had been controlled for, neither hostile nor benevolent
sexism had significant main effects on victim blame (all ps .23).
However, the main effect of type of rape remained significant after
rape myth acceptance had been controlled for (p .001). As
predicted, rape myth acceptance and type of rape did not interact
significantly. It is interesting to note that rape myth acceptance had
a significant main effect on victim blame after hostile and benev-
olent sexism had been partialed out (pr .30,
.32),
t(59) 2.40, p .02. This finding is in line with the argument that
rape myth acceptance has a robust relationship with victim blame
that is not moderated by the type of rape.
Discussion
The present results are consistent with our first two main hy-
potheses. As expected, participants assigned more blame to the
victim of an acquaintance rape in comparison with the stranger
rape victim. This is consistent with findings in previous research
(e.g., Amir, 1971; Bridges & McGrail, 1989; Quackenbush, 1989)
and suggests that perceptions surrounding the appropriateness of
the victims behavior may have some influence on the participants
reactions to the victims of acquaintance rape. This proposal is
further supported by the significant interaction between benevolent
sexism and type of rape for victim blame. Individuals who were
high in benevolent sexism attributed more blame to an acquain-
tance rape victim than did low benevolent sexism individuals. This
interaction effect makes a significant contribution to the prediction
of victim blame even after the effects of social desirability, rape
myth acceptance, and hostile sexism and the interaction effects of
hostile sexism and type of rape and of hostile sexism and benev-
olent sexism have been partialed out. In fact, no significant inter-
action between type of rape and rape myth acceptance (or hostile
sexism) was observed. Thus, unlike rape myth acceptance, benev-
olent sexism appears to provide a mechanism through which some
of the observed differences in victim blame can be explained.
Study 2
In Study 1, hostile sexism did not interact significantly with type
of rape in predicting victim blame. The differences between the
amount of blame attributed by high versus low hostile sexists did
not vary significantly as a function of type of rape. As discussed
earlier, we expect that hostile sexists should be more responsive to
cues that imply the legitimacy of hostile acts toward women. For
this reason, Study 2 investigates whether hostile sexism interacts
with type of rape in predicting a different aspect of reactions to
rape scenarios, namely, mens rape proclivity. Previous studies
have shown that the acceptance of interpersonal violence may be
Table 1
Pooled Within-Group Correlations Among Measures of Rape
Myth Acceptance, Hostile Sexism, Benevolent Sexism, Victim
Blame (Study 1), and Rape Proclivity (Study 2)
Variable 12345
1. Benevolent sexism .65 .61 .41
2. Hostile sexism .43 .64 .46
3. Rape myth acceptance .48 .55 .53
4. Victim blame .33 .31 .56
5. Rape proclivity .29 .40 .50 .47
Note. Correlations above the diagonal are from Study 1; correlations
below the diagonal are from Study 2. All correlations are significant at p
.01.
Table 2
Regression Analysis of the Effects of Benevolent Sexism and
Type of Rape on Victim Blame (Study 1)
Regression step
tdfpr R
2
Step 1
Benevolent sexism .37 3.54*** 62 .41
Type of rape .39 3.72*** 62 .42 .31***
Step 2
Benevolent Sexism
Type of Rape .81 2.44* 61 .30 .06*
* p .05. *** p .001.
Figure 1. The relationship between benevolent sexism and victim blame
as a function of type of rape (Study 1).
116
ABRAMS, VIKI, MASSER, AND BOHNER
related to hostile attitudes toward women. However, no previous
research has considered whether the relationship between hostile
sexism and rape proclivity differs across different types of rape.
We expected that, because stranger rape is an unambiguously
illegal act, it should be consensually condemned regardless of
sexist attitudes and that the negative associations should prevent
any impact on either blame or proclivity. However, in the case of
acquaintance rape, reactions should be affected differently by
hostile and benevolent sexist attitudes. As already noted, Glick and
Fiske (1996) argued that benevolent sexism and hostile sexism tap
different aspects of sexism (i.e., positively valenced complemen-
tary gender differentiation and negatively valenced hostility to
women, respectively). As found in Study 1, in the case of an
acquaintance rape, higher benevolent sexism should be associated
with attributing greater responsibility to the victim, and we did not
expect hostile sexism to be associated with blame. In the same
situation, however, we expected that individuals who were higher
in hostile sexism might be more likely to consider that the events
imply social acceptability of behaving in sexually aggressive ways
toward women. Independently of blaming the victim, these men
may actually feel that the circumstances surrounding acquaintance
rapes give them license to use force against women in similar
situations. However, because benevolent sexism is essentially a
protective and positive orientation toward women, we did not
anticipate that it would be associated with proclivity toward rape.
Accordingly, we expected the significant interaction between be-
nevolent sexism and type of rape for victim blame (as observed in
Study 1) to be complemented by a similar interaction effect be-
tween hostile sexism and type of rape for rape proclivity. We
hypothesized that high hostile sexism individuals would report a
higher proclivity for acquaintance rape than would low hostile
sexism individuals. No significant interaction effects between type
of rape and benevolent sexism on rape proclivity were predicted.
Again, rape myth acceptance was not expected to interact with
type of rape for either victim blame or rape proclivity. In addition,
we did not anticipate any interaction between hostile and benev-
olent sexism, as the relationship of each with the different depen-
dent variables is assumed to be independent and additive.
Method
Participants
One hundred eleven male students from a medium-sized university in
the southeast of England volunteered to participate in this study. Partici-
pantsages ranged from 18 to 35 years, with 90% of the participants being
younger than 26 years (M 21.99, SD 3.03). The majority of partici-
pants (84.70%) were of European descent, 12.61% were Asian or African,
and 2.70% were classified as other.
Design, Materials, and Procedure
The design, materials, and procedure were exactly the same as those
used in Study 1, with the exception that participants were also required to
respond to a five-item self-report measure assessing the likelihood that they
would behave like the assailant in the vignette (rape proclivity). The
proclivity scale consisted of the following items: How likely is it that you
would have behaved like Jason in this situation?”“How sexually aroused
would you have felt in the in the situation?”“How much would you enjoy
getting your way in this situation?”“Do you agree that in sexual encounters
women like to be taken? and How likely is it that Kathy eventually
enjoyed being taken in this situation? Three of these items were adapted
from Bohner et al. (1998). A preliminary question concerning whether
participants had responded to a similar questionnaire was used to ensure
that participants who had taken part in Study 1 were not included.
Results
Preliminary Analyses
Principal-components analyses with a varimax rotation yielded
two interpretable factors for the dependent measures (i.e., rape
proclivity and victim blame). Item loadings for both factors ranged
from .44 to .82. We calculated composite mean scores for rape
proclivity and victim blame for each participant by combining the
relevant items. The internal consistencies of the composite mea-
sures were satisfactory (victim blame:
.79; rape proclivity:
.75). The internal consistencies of all the other measures were
acceptable to good (R Scale:
.85; IM Scale :
.65; Hostile
Sexism:
.90; Benevolent Sexism:
.80). As in Study 1,
correlation analysis revealed significant correlations among all the
measures (all ps .01), the weakest correlation being between
benevolent sexism and rape proclivity and the strongest being
between rape proclivity and victim blame (see Table 1).
Victim Blame
Hierarchical regression analyses similar to those conducted in
Study 1 assessed the relationships among benevolent sexism, type
of rape, and victim blame. Significant main effects were obtained
for both benevolent sexism and type of rape in the first step (see
Table 3). Higher benevolent sexism was associated with higher
blame to rape victim. The acquaintance rape victim was blamed for
the event more than the stranger rape victim (M 3.38,
SD 1.09; and M 2.39, SD 0.75, respectively).
These main effects were qualified by a significant interaction
between benevolent sexism and type of rape. This interaction was
significant even when rape myth acceptance, impression manage-
ment, and hostile sexism were accounted for (pr .20,
.47),
t(103) 2.05, p .04. We further analyzed the interaction
between benevolent sexism and type of rape using simple effects
analysis. No significant relationship between victim blame and
benevolent sexism was observed in the stranger rape condition
(
.13), t(52) 0.96, ns. In the acquaintance rape condition,
however, the relationship between victim blame and benevolent
sexism was significant (
.46), t(55) 3.82, p .001. This
pattern of results is almost identical to that obtained in Study 1 and
Table 3
Results From Hierarchical Regression Analyses on Victim
Blame (Study 2)
Regression step
tdfpr R
2
Step 1
Benevolent sexism .29 3.61*** 108 .33
Type of rape .45 5.57*** 108 .47 .30***
Step 2
Benevolent Sexism
Type of Rape .59 2.30* 107 .22 .03*
* p .05. *** p .001.
117
SEXISM AND PERCEPTIONS OF RAPE
is consistent with our first two main hypotheses. The relationship
between benevolent sexism and victim blame was stronger in
acquaintance rape than in stranger rape contexts.
Rape Proclivity
Hierarchical regression analysis was performed to test the hy-
pothesized interaction between hostile sexism and type of rape.
Hostile sexism and type of rape were entered in the first step, and
the interaction term (Hostile Sexism Type of Rape) was entered
in the last step. There were significant main effects for hostile
sexism and for type of rape (see Table 4). Higher hostile sexism
was associated with greater rape proclivity, and participants re-
ported a higher proclivity for acquaintance rape in comparison
with stranger rape (M 3.08, SD 1.10; and M 1.61,
SD 0.64, respectively), consistent with our first hypothesis.
These effects were qualified by a significant interaction between
type of rape and hostile sexism. This interaction remained signif-
icant even when rape myth acceptance, benevolent sexism, and
impression management were accounted for (pr .23,
.49),
t(103) 2.48, p .015.
Simple effects analyses revealed a significant relationship be-
tween hostile sexism and rape proclivity in the acquaintance rape
condition (
.56), t(55) 5.03, p .001, but not in the stranger
rape condition (
.09), t(52) 1.22, ns. As shown in Figure 2
and consistent with our third main hypothesis, the higher an
individuals score on hostile sexism was, the more likely he was to
report a high proclivity to commit an acquaintance rape.
5
Mediation Analyses
Earlier, we reported that rape proclivity and victim blame were
significantly correlated. We therefore decided to conduct further
regression analyses to investigate whether the interaction effects
between benevolent sexism and type of rape for victim blame were
mediated by rape proclivity. In the first step, type of rape and
benevolent sexism were entered. In the second step, rape proclivity
was entered. In the final step, the interaction effect (Benevolent
Sexism Type of Rape) was entered. No mediation effects were
observed. The interaction between benevolent sexism and type of
rape remained significant after the statistical effects of rape pro-
clivity had been partialed out (pr .20,
.36), t(106) 2.08,
p .04. Similar analyses were performed for the interaction effect
between hostile sexism and type of rape for proclivity. Hostile
sexism and type of rape were entered in the first step. In the second
step, victim blame was entered. In the final step, the interaction
term (Hostile Sexism Type of Rape) was entered. No significant
mediation effects were observed. The interaction between hostile
sexism and type of rape for rape proclivity remained significant
after victim blame had been partialed out (pr .25,
.52),
t(106) 2.75, p .01. These findings lend further support to our
argument that victim blame and rape proclivity are influenced by
relatively independent processes.
Discussion
The results of Study 2 replicate and extend the findings of
Study 1 and provide support for all three main hypotheses. As
expected, in line with our first hypothesis, significant differences
in participants responses to the acquaintance and stranger rape
5
When we used the full ANOVA type regression model used in Study 1,
the interaction effect of benevolent and type of rape on blame remained
significant (pr .22,
.59), t(100) 2.24, p .03. No other
significant interaction effects were obtained. Similar to Study 1, rape myth
acceptance had a significant main effect on victim blame, even when
hostile sexism and benevolent sexism were controlled for (pr .45,
.48), t(100) 5.21, p .001, but hostile sexism and benevolent sexism did
not have significant main effects on victim blame after rape myth accep-
tance had been controlled for (all ps .42).
For proclivity, the interaction between hostile sexism and type of rape
remained significant (pr .24,
.56), t(100) 2.44, p .02. No other
interaction effects reached significance (all ps .65). There was a signif-
icant main effect of rape myth acceptance (pr .34,
.30),
t(100) 3.65, p .001, but not for hostile or benevolent sexism (ps
.10). We also reran the mediation analyses for blame and proclivity using
the full ANOVA approach involving both forms of sexism and their
interactions with condition. For blame, there was a significant relationship
with proclivity, the Benevolent Sexism Condition effect remained sig-
nificant, t(100) 1.99, p .05, and there were no significant effects of
hostile sexism or any higher order interactions. For proclivity, the Hostile
Sexism Condition effect on proclivity also remained significant,
t(100) 2.93, p .005. These results indicate that the effects of hostile
sexism and benevolent sexism are independent because they hold up even
when parallel effects for the other type of sexism are partialed out.
Table 4
Results from Hierarchical Regression Analyses on Rape
Proclivity (Study 2)
Regression step
tdfpr R
2
Step 1
Hostile sexism .30 4.52*** 108 .39
Type of rape .64 9.65*** 108 .68 .54***
Step 2
Hostile Sexism
Type of Rape .63 3.16** 107 .29 .04**
** p .01. *** p .001.
Figure 2. The relationship between hostile sexism and rape proclivity as
a function of type of rape (Study 2).
118
ABRAMS, VIKI, MASSER, AND BOHNER
scenarios were observed on both dependent measures. For victim
blame, the acquaintance rape condition resulted in more blame
than the stranger rape condition. Furthermore, as in Study 1 and in
line with our second hypothesis, there was a significant interaction
between benevolent sexism and type of rape, even after hostile
sexism, rape myth acceptance, and social desirability were par-
tialed out. Individuals who were high in benevolent sexism attrib-
uted more blame to the acquaintance rape victim than did low
benevolent sexism individuals. As in Study 1, there were no
significant interactions between type of rape and rape myth accep-
tance or hostile sexism for victim blame. These findings further
support our proposal that benevolent sexism can provide a theo-
retically meaningful way to account for some of the reported
differences in the blame attributed to victim of different types of
rape.
In Study 2, participants also reported higher levels of proclivity
for acquaintance rape in comparison with stranger rape. Moreover,
in line with our third hypothesis, hostile sexism rather than benev-
olent sexism interacted significantly with type of rape to predict
rape proclivity. These findings support the idea that victim blame
and rape proclivity may be influenced by different attitudinal
processes (with benevolent sexism influencing victim blame and
hostile sexism affecting rape proclivity). Although individuals who
are high in benevolent sexism may be more inclined to blame
acquaintance rape victims, this does not necessarily mean that they
have a higher proclivity to behave like the perpetrator. Rape
proclivity seems to be influenced by hostile attitudes toward
women. What is interesting is that the relationship between hostile
sexism and rape proclivity is larger in situations in which such
aggression may be viewed as acceptable (i.e., acquaintance rape);
this offers support for the argument that benevolent sexism and
hostile sexism are complementary ideologies. No significant inter-
action between rape myth acceptance and type of rape was ob-
served for rape proclivity. Overall, the results of Study 2 support
the argument that rape myth acceptance, as a construct, may be too
general to offer a meaningful way to account for some of the
variations in participants responses to different types of rape.
Study 3
The results of Studies 1 and 2 show clearly that individuals who
are high in benevolent sexism are more likely to blame an ac-
quaintance rape victim in comparison with low benevolent sexism
individuals. Earlier, we argued that this effect may occur because
high benevolent sexism individuals view the acquaintance rape
victim as violating traditional gender role expectations and, there-
fore, as no longer deserving of their benevolent protection. Study 3
investigates the role of three potential mediators in the relationship
between benevolent sexism and blame of acquaintance rape vic-
tims. As in Studies 1 and 2, a significant positive relationship
between benevolent sexism and victim blame was expected. If the
victims behavior is seen as inappropriate for woman in this
situation, it should invite disapproval and blame. Thus, we ex-
pected perceptions of appropriateness to mediate the relationship
between benevolent sexism and blame of acquaintance rape
victims.
We also investigated the possibility that more adversarial views
of the victim might mediate the relationship. Specifically, we
examined perceptions of whether the woman really wanted to have
sex but must offer token resistance to preserve her status as a good
woman or whether the woman led on the perpetrator. However, we
did not expect these adversarial perceptions to be associated with
benevolent sexism or to mediate between benevolent sexism and
victim blame, because higher benevolent sexist attitudes view
women as dependent and to be protected rather than as being in
direct competition with men (cf. Glick et al., 1997; Masser &
Abrams, 2001).
Method
The design and procedure for this study were similar to those of
Studies 1 and 2. However, all the participants in this study were presented
with only the acquaintance rape scenario. Measures were restricted to those
that would provide a focused test of our specific hypotheses. Participants
therefore completed the Benevolent Sexism subscale of the ASI, measures
for the three possible mediators, and the blame measure.
Participants
Forty-three students (18 men, 25 women) from a medium-sized univer-
sity in the southeast of England volunteered to participate in this study.
Participants ages ranged from 18 to 30 years. Of the participants, 90%
reported ages younger than 24 years (M 20.88, SD 2.65). All the
participants in this study were of European descent.
Design, Materials, and Procedure
The design and procedure were exactly the same as those used in
Study 1, with a few exceptions. All participants were presented with the
acquaintance rape scenario and asked to assign blame to the victim.
Furthermore, participants responded to just the Benevolent Sexism sub-
scale of the ASI. Rape myth acceptance, impression management, and rape
proclivity were not measured in this study. Participants were also required
to respond to a 10-item (7-point) semantic differential scale assessing their
perceptions of the appropriateness of the victims behavior. Example items
are Ladylike vs. Unladylike,”“Chaste vs. Forward,”“Dignified vs. Un-
dignified,”“Decent vs. Indecent, and Proper vs. Improper. Higher
scores represent that the behavior was less appropriate. Four items mea-
sured the extent to which the participants believed that the victim really
wanted sex. These were Kathy really wanted to have sex with Jason,
Kathys resistance to Jason was only so Jason would not think she was too
forward,”“Kathy wanted Jason to overcome her initial resistance, and
Kathy wanted Jason to takeher.Finally, 5 items measured the extent to
which participants felt the victim led the perpetrator on. These were Kathy
led Jason on,”“Jason was led to believe that Kathy wanted to have sex with
him,”“Kathy teased Jason,”“Kathys behavior turned Jason on, and
Kathy got what she deserved for teasing Jason. A 7-point Likert scale
accompanied all above statements (1 strongly disagree to 7 strongly
agree).
Results and Discussion
Preliminary Analyses
The internal consistencies of all the indices ranged from accept-
able to good (Benevolent Sexism:
.84; victim blame:
.82;
inappropriateness of victim behavior:
.86; victim wanted sex:
.91; perpetrator was led on:
.72). We calculated com-
posite mean scores for all scales for each participant by combining
the relevant items. Preliminary analyses showed no significant
gender differences on any of the measures used in this study (all
ps .05), except for perceptions of whether the perpetrator was
119
SEXISM AND PERCEPTIONS OF RAPE
led on. Male participants were more likely to believe that the
perpetrator was led on, in comparison with female participants
(M 4.45, SD 1.02; and M 3.78, SD 0.95, respectively),
F(1, 39) 5.14, p .03. Therefore, gender was included in all
subsequent analyses involving this measure. It should be noted that
no significant interaction between gender and benevolent sexism
was obtained for any of the dependent measures (all ps .12).
Victim Blame
Mediation analyses (Baron & Kenny, 1986) were performed on
the data. First, participantsvictim blame scores were regressed on
benevolent sexism. As expected, people scoring higher on benev-
olent sexism assigned greater blame to the victim (
.35),
t(41) 2.42, p .02. Second, participants perceptions of the
inappropriateness of victim behavior, perceptions of whether the
victim wanted sex, and perceptions of whether the perpetrator was
led on were separately regressed on benevolent sexism.
6
People
scoring higher on benevolent sexism perceived the victims be-
havior as more inappropriate (
.32), t(41) 2.14, p .04.
Benevolent sexism scores did not significantly predict partici-
pants views concerning whether the victim really wanted sex,
t(41) 1.77, ns, or perceptions of whether the perpetrator was led
on, t(41) 1.44, ns. Thus, only perceived inappropriateness of
victim behavior was evaluated further as a potential mediator.
Finally, victim blame was regressed on perceived inappropriate-
ness of victim behavior and benevolent sexism simultaneously.
This analysis revealed a significant relationship between perceived
inappropriateness of victim behavior and victim blame (
.53),
t(40) 3.97, p .001, whereas benevolent sexism no longer
significantly predicted victim blame, t(40) 1.41, ns (see Figure
3). A Sobel test revealed that the reduction in the effect of
benevolent sexism was significant (z 2.07, p .04).
The above findings are consistent with our predictions. Higher
benevolent sexism was significantly related to higher blame of the
acquaintance rape victim and to perceiving the behavior of the
acquaintance rape victim as more inappropriate for a woman (i.e.,
unladylike). More interesting is that the above results suggest that
the relationship between benevolent sexism and victim blame was
mediated by participants perceptions of the inappropriateness of
the victims behavior. Participants views concerning whether the
victim really wanted sex or whether the perpetrator was led on do
not appear to mediate the relationship between benevolent sexism
and blame significantly. However, these variables may serve as
mediators for the relationship between hostile sexism and rape
proclivity. To further investigate this idea, we conducted a
follow-up study on an all-male sample, focusing on the relation-
ship between hostile sexism and rape proclivity.
Study 4
The notion that women really want sex but must pretend not to
so as to appear chaste is more consistent with adversarial beliefs
about sexual relations. In fact, one of the items in the rape pro-
clivity scale used in Study 2 assesses participants agreement with
the idea that women enjoy being taken in sexual encounters. Given
that rape proclivity was found to be significantly related to hostile
sexism (Study 2), we expected that participantsviews concerning
whether the victim really wanted sex would mediate the relation-
ship between hostile sexism and proclivity. We also felt that the
belief that the victim deserved what she got because she teased the
perpetrator was more in line with hostile attitudes toward women.
Indeed, the Hostile Sexism subscale of the ASI contains an item
that suggests that many women get a kick out of teasing men by
seeming sexually available and then refusing male advances
(Glick and Fiske, 1996, p. 512). It seems likely that this presump-
tion may affect perceptions of specific victims, and, therefore,
participants views concerning whether the victim led the perpe-
trator on could also mediate the relationship between hostile sex-
ism and proclivity. The presumption of a hostile sexist seems to be
that women manipulate men by being deceitful about their sexual
intentions and that womens resistance to male sexual advances
may therefore be disregarded. Thus, for hostile sexists, a sexual
relationship is a challenge rather than a partnership, adversarial
rather than mutually supportive.
In Study 4, we predicted a significant positive relationship
between hostile sexism and rape proclivity and that the two more
adversarial mediators could significantly mediate this relationship.
These were participants judgments of whether the victim really
wanted sex and their perceptions of whether the perpetrator was
led on. Perceived inappropriateness of victim behavior was not
expected to mediate the relationship between hostile sexism and
rape proclivity.
Method
Participants
Forty male students from a medium-sized university in the southeast of
England took part in this study. Participants ages ranged from 18 to 52
years. However, 75% of the participants reported ages younger than 26
years (M 25.88, SD 7.12). Of the participants, 84.2% were of
European descent, whereas 15.8% were classified as Asian or African.
6
We controlled for the effects of gender by entering it in the first step
of this regression analysis. To check for possible consequences of potential
overlap between item meanings between the led on mediator and the
blame dependent variable, we conducted the mediation analysis again but
eliminated the item Kathy got what she deserved, the item Kathy teased
Jason,or both from the measure of the extent to which participants felt the
victim led the perpetrator on. After we removed these items, benevolent
sexism was still not significantly related to perception of whether the
perpetrator was led on, ts(100) 1.62, 1.48, and 1.52, respectively, all
ps .1.
Figure 3. Mediation of the relationship between benevolent sexism and
victim blame by perceived inappropriateness of victim behavior (Study 3).
Participant gender was partialed out of these analyses. Numbers given are
standardized regression coefficients. Numbers in parentheses are betas with
the effect of the other predictor accounted for. * p .05. ** p .01.
120
ABRAMS, VIKI, MASSER, AND BOHNER
Design, Materials, and Procedure
As in Study 3, all the participants in this study were presented with the
acquaintance rape scenario only. We measured hostile sexism, the three
mediators, and rape proclivity. The remainder of the design, materials, and
procedure were exactly the same as in Study 3.
Results and Discussion
Preliminary Analyses
All the scales had satisfactory internal consistencies (Hostile
Sexism:
.90; rape proclivity:
.70; inappropriateness of
victim behavior:
.87; victim wanted sex:
.90; perpetrator
was led on:
.70). Thus, we computed composite mean scores
for all the measures for each participant by combining the relevant
items.
Rape Proclivity
As in Study 3, mediation analyses were performed on the
obtained data. First, rape proclivity was regressed on hostile sex-
ism. Consistent with our predictions, hostile sexism significantly
predicted rape proclivity (
.43), t(38) 2.96, p .01. In line
with the results in Study 2, the higher an individuals Hostile
Sexism score was, the more likely he was to report the proclivity
to commit an acquaintance rape. Second, evaluations of the inap-
propriateness of victim behavior, perceptions of whether the victim
really wanted sex, and perceptions of whether the perpetrator was
led on were regressed separately on hostile sexism. Higher Hostile
Sexism scores were significantly associated with stronger beliefs
that the victim really wanted sex (
.47), t(38) 3.27, p .01,
and that the perpetrator was led on (
.35), t(38) 2.30, p
.03. Hostile Sexism scores were not significantly associated with
perceptions of the inappropriateness of the victims behavior,
t(38) 1.22, ns. Thus, only perceptions of whether the victim
wanted sex and perceptions of whether the perpetrator was led on
were evaluated further as potential mediators. These two variables
were significantly related (r .49, p .001) and were signifi-
cantly correlated with rape proclivity, as shown in Figure 4.
Next, rape proclivity was regressed on perceptions of whether
the victim wanted sex, perceptions of whether the perpetrator was
led on, and hostile sexism, simultaneously. The relationship with
hostile sexism was significantly reduced when the two mediators
were included in the regression equation (see Figure 4). Examina-
tion of the independent effects of each mediator (i.e., once we
partialed out the effect of hostile sexism and the other mediator)
revealed that there was a significant relationship between percep-
tions of whether the victim really wanted sex and rape proclivity
(
.80), t(36) 7.54, p .001. However, perceptions of
whether the perpetrator was led on did not independently signifi-
cantly predict rape proclivity, t(36) 0.73, ns, and therefore were
not a potential unique mediator. Finally, the relationship between
hostile sexism and rape proclivity was reduced significantly when
perceptions of whether the victim really wanted sex were included
as a predictor, t(36) 0.32, ns (Sobel test, z 3.00, p .03; see
Figure 4).
These results are generally consistent with our hypotheses.
Individuals who were high in hostile sexism reported a higher
proclivity for acquaintance rape than did low benevolent sexist
individuals. Participants views concerning the inappropriateness
of the victims behavior and their perceptions of whether the
perpetrator was led on did not appear to mediate the relationship
between hostile sexism and rape proclivity. Although perceptions
of whether the perpetrator was led on were significantly correlated
with rape proclivity (see Figure 4), this relationship became non-
significant once hostile sexism and perceptions of whether the
victim really wanted sex were entered into the regression equation.
Instead, the relationship between hostile sexism and rape proclivity
was found to be almost wholly mediated by participants percep-
tions of whether the victim really wanted sex.
General Discussion
Across the four studies, the results provide a consistent picture
of how hostile and benevolent sexism may affect responses to
victims of different types of rape. In Studies 1 and 2, individuals
who were high in benevolent sexism were more likely to blame the
victim of an acquaintance rape than were low benevolent sexism
individuals. The results of Study 3 support our argument that
individuals who are high in benevolent sexism may blame ac-
quaintance rape victims because they perceive them as having
behaved in a manner that is inappropriate for a woman. These
findings make sense when one considers the nature of benevolent
sexist attitudes. Individuals who are high in benevolent sexism
hold particular beliefs about how a good and respectable woman
should behave. As such, they are more likely to view a woman
who invites a relationship with a man (itself a potential violation of
traditional sex role norms) as being responsible for anything un-
fortunate that may happen to her. The woman in this situation is
seen by benevolent sexists as transgressing relevant norms and,
thus, as deserving blame (cf. Abrams, Marques, Bown & Henson,
2000; Masser & Abrams, 2001).
In Study 2, the finding that mens rape proclivity in response to
the acquaintance rape scenario was associated significantly with
hostile (but not with benevolent) sexism is consistent with previ-
ous research findings that the acceptance of interpersonal violence
and adversarial sexual beliefs is broadly related to hostile attitudes
Figure 4. Mediation of the relationship between hostile sexism and mens
rape proclivity, by perception of whether the victim wanted sex and
whether the perpetrator was led on (Study 4). Numbers given are standard-
ized regression coefficients. Numbers in parentheses are betas with the
effect of the other predictor accounted for. * p .05. ** p .01.
121
SEXISM AND PERCEPTIONS OF RAPE
toward women (Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1995). Indeed, the results
of Study 4 suggest that the relationship between hostile sexism and
the proclivity to rape is mediated by perceptions that the victim
really wanted to have sex but was pretending not to so as to appear
chaste. This idea that women enjoy being taken is consistent with
adversarial beliefs concerning malefemale sexual encounters.
The results of Study 2 also corroborate the argument that dif-
ferent motivational and attitudinal processes influence rape pro-
clivity and victim blame. Individuals who were higher in benev-
olent sexism were found to be significantly more likely to blame
certain victims of rape. However, these individuals were not sig-
nificantly more likely to report a higher proclivity to engage in
sexual aggression. Moreover, although victim blame and rape
proclivity were significantly correlated, neither variable mediated
the observed interaction effects. It can therefore be argued that
benevolent sexist attitudes may not function as a means to justify
or excuse aggressive behavioral inclinations. Rather, it is possible
that individuals who are high in benevolent sexism blame victims
of rape to preserve their beliefs in a just world, in which women
who enter a sexual relationship with a man are seen as accepting
responsibility for the mans sexual behavior (e.g., because high
benevolent sexist individuals are more likely to believe the woman
has violated traditional gender role expectations). In contrast,
hostile sexism seems to function as a means to rationalize sexual
violence (e.g., the victim really wanted sex)hence the signifi-
cant relationship between rape proclivity and hostile sexism. In
some fashion, the acquaintance rape scenario may appear to make
the act of rape seem less deviant and perhaps more pronormative
for men who endorse hostile sexism beliefs (cf. Abrams et al.,
2000), which may encourage proclivity.
The results of the present research can also be interpreted as
supporting Glick and Fiskes (1996) suggestion that hostile sexism
and benevolent sexism are complementary attitudes. First, consis-
tent with previous findings, hostile sexism and benevolent sexism
were found to be positively correlated in Studies 1 and 2. Second,
comparison of the interaction effects obtained in Studies 1 and 2
(see Figures 1 and 2) reveals a resemblance between the pattern
involving benevolent sexism for victim blame and the pattern
involving hostile sexism for rape proclivity. The situation in which
benevolent sexism predicts victim blame is the same situation in
which hostile sexism predicts rape proclivity. As such, hostile
sexism and benevolent sexism may function in a complementary
fashion. Benevolent sexism may provide the sociocultural climate
that allows for hostile sexist behavior to be manifested. These
conclusions are consistent with the feminist argument that rape is
used as a form of social control (Brownmiller, 1975; Day, 1995).
By judging that only certain types of women or women only in
certain situations cannot be blamed for being raped, benevolent
sexism implies that true rape only happens when women fail to
adhere to traditional gender roles. When women choose to disre-
gard these roles, they may invite aggressive sexual responses from
hostile sexists. Thus, these distinct reactions associated with be-
nevolent and hostile sexism serve to maintain a sociocultural
climate that encourages the acceptance of rape myths and keeps
women in subservient roles (Fiske, Xu, Cuddy, & Glick, 1999).
Consistent with this idea, the relationships between benevolent
sexism and blame and between hostile sexism and proclivity were
significant only for the acquaintance rape scenario. This suggests
that benevolent sexism and hostile sexism attitudes are particularly
influential when judgments focus on the relationships between
men and women rather than on mens behavior or womens
behavior per se.
The results of the present study also suggest that rape myth
acceptance may be too general a concept to account for the
differences in participants responses to victims of stranger and
acquaintance rape. Rape myth acceptance, as a construct, seems to
measure general attitudes concerning rape and may therefore be
limited in its ability to differentiate among types of rape. It is
possible that there are different myths concerning different types
of rape (i.e., stranger rape myths and acquaintance or date rape
myths). Thus, future researchers could attempt to differentiate and
measure stranger rape myth acceptance and acquaintance or date
rape myth acceptance. It is important to note, however, that the
current rape myth acceptance scales remain useful instruments,
especially if one is interested in measuring general attitudes toward
rape and rape victims. In fact, rape myth acceptance was found to
be a significant predictor of victim blame and rape proclivity even
after the hostile sexism and benevolent sexism had been controlled
for. The general beliefs about rape that are measured by rape myth
acceptance scales may serve different functions (Bohner et al.,
1998). These functions (just world beliefs, illusion of invulnera-
bility, justifications of aggressive tendencies) may be more directly
related to judgments about particular rape scenarios. Furthermore,
the functional beliefs measured by rape myth acceptance may be
empirically related to but operate relatively independently from
sexist attitudes. Thus, rape myth acceptance is both a more direct
measure of attitudes toward rape, which may explain the robust-
ness of its effects, and a more general measure, which may explain
why its effects are less differentiated across target scenarios.
A possible limitation of the current studies is that, to ensure
comparability, we used the same two vignettes (acquaintance vs.
stranger) in all our studies. It is therefore possible that our ob-
served results may be due to unintended subtle differences be-
tween stimuli. Future research could examine whether the findings
are replicated using different methodologies or scenarios. In fact,
findings from a recent study that used a different scenario (Viki &
Abrams, 2001) appear to support the general conclusions we reach
in this article. Participants were presented with an acquaintance
rape scenario in which either the victim was described as a married
woman or no information about the victim was provided (control
victim). In essence, the description of a married mother who is
raped by an acquaintance resulted in a scenario in which the victim
is assaulted during an act of infidelity. As expected, the rape victim
who was a married woman was attributed more blame for the
incident than was the control victim. These effects were moderated
by benevolent sexism, such that individuals who were high in
benevolent sexism perceived the cheating married woman as
more blameworthy than did low benevolent sexism individuals. As
in the present studies, these relationships were significant only for
benevolent sexism and were not significant for hostile sexism or
rape myth acceptance. These findings seem consistent with our
conclusion that individuals who are high in benevolent sexism
blame rape victims who may be perceived as violating traditional
gender role expectations.
A further question is whether measuring sexism after partici-
pants have responded to the scenarios may lead to a reverse causal
chain from the one we propose. Previous research on prejudice has
routinely included prejudice as a posttest measure, in part to avoid
122
ABRAMS, VIKI, MASSER, AND BOHNER
alerting participants to the research hypotheses (see Devine &
Elliott, 1995; Lepore & Brown, 1997; Wittenbrink, Judd, & Park,
1997). Moreover, we think reverse causality is unlikely in the
present research for two reasons. First, we checked whether Hos-
tile Sexism and Benevolent Sexism scores differed as a function of
condition in Studies 1 and 2 and found no differences (all
Fs 1.00). Second, hostile and benevolent sexism appear to be
robust and stable individual differences (Masser & Abrams, 1999),
with a 1-year retest reliability above .75 (Masser, 1998). It there-
fore seems more plausible that sexist attitudes cause particular
responses to rape scenarios than the other way around.
We are aware of the limitations of scenario studies, but this
approach is likely to be as close to real life behavior as we can get
within reasonable ethical limits. The scenario method also has
some strengths. If it is true that people judge aspects of a situation
on the basis of their chronic beliefs, there is high content validity
in a method that requires people to vividly imagine a realistic
situation. This may provide a closer approximation to peoples
reactions in relevant situations (e.g., being told about such an event
by a peer, through a media report, or by being a jury member)
compared with some alternative methods that are further from real
life (e.g., Malamuths, 1981, abstract and hypothetical measure of
rape proclivity; see Bohner et al., 1998). We are also conscious
that describing the study as being about gender relations may have
primed participants to think about the scenarios in a way that they
might not have in other settings. On the other hand, the content of
the scenarios concerns a malefemale sexual episode, and this in
itself is likely to prime gender. However, in future research it
would be useful to check whether gender priming effects exert an
influence on the pattern of results.
Although it is impossible to prove a null effect, it seems unlikely
that we have missed effects of benevolent sexism on proclivity or
of hostile sexism on blame. Studies 1 and 2 have adequate statis-
tical power (.87 and .98, respectively) to detect medium-sized
effects. In addition, in line with our predictions for blame, the
significant interactions between benevolent sexism and condition
in Studies 1 and 2 are significantly larger than the corresponding
(nonsignificant) interactions of hostile sexism and condition
(z 1.66 and 1.70, respectively, one-tailed ps .05), and, in line
with our predictions for proclivity, the interaction between hostile
sexism and condition in Study 2 is significantly larger than the
corresponding (nonsignificant) interaction of benevolent sexism
and condition (z 2.19, one-tailed p .05). Nevertheless, it
remains possible that, under some circumstances, hostile sexism
could affect blame and benevolent sexism could affect proclivity
(though the relationship seems likely to be negative). Finally, it is
conceivable that some unmeasured external variable or individual-
differences variable may have affected both sexism scores and
blame and proclivity scores, and this question remains to be
investigated in future research.
Our findings have several important psycholegal implications.
Given that the prevalence of acquaintance rape is much higher than
that of stranger rape, the finding that acquaintance rape victims are
more likely to be blamed than are stranger rape victims is worry-
ing. This is compounded by the finding that individuals who
endorse benevolent ideas about women are more likely to blame
acquaintance rape victims. Benevolent sexist attitudes are often
perceived as prosocial and therefore go unchallenged in broader
society (Glick & Fiske, 1996). For example, Kilianski and Rudman
(1998) found that women tend to prefer a man who is described as
benevolently sexist in comparison with a hostile sexist man. As
long as benevolent sexist ideas permeate societys conceptions of
malefemale relationships, it is likely that victims of acquaintance
rape may not receive the social or legal support they need (Shapiro
& Schwarz, 1997). Acquaintance rape victims may also blame
themselves for the event and feel disinclined to report its occur-
rence because of fears of negative reactions from relatives and
friends (Bechhofer & Parrot, 1991).
Benevolent sexist attitudes also appear to have a pervasive
influence within the criminal justice system. As already noted,
police officers, judges, lawyers, and medical personnel are not
very supportive of acquaintance rape victims (Holmstrom & Bur-
gess, 1991; Weller, 1992). Temkin (2000) found that lawyers in
the United Kingdom often consider that acquaintance rape victims
are partly to blame for their own fate. Furthermore, prosecutors are
relatively unwilling to prosecute acquaintance rape cases, and
defense lawyers often attempt to damage the victims reputation by
portraying her as sexually promiscuous. Clearly, such defenses
appeal to benevolent sexist ideals concerning womens roles in
society, which result in sexual violence being viewed as justified
in some cases. It is therefore unsurprising that jurors have been
found to acquit perpetrators when the victim is successfully por-
trayed as a slut (Weller, 1992). The present studies suggest that a
juror who claims a positive (benevolent sexist) attitude toward
women may nonetheless be highly biased against victims of ac-
quaintance rape. Of equal concern is our finding that hostile sexist
men actually seem to experience heightened rape proclivity when
considering cases of acquaintance rape. Further studies could
examine whether these relationships between sexism and reactions
to victims of rape are matched by corresponding reactions to
potential perpetrators and whether these reactions are entirely
attitudinal or are sensitive to contextual and cultural norms (cf.
Abrams et al., 2000; Abrams, Marques, Randsley de Moura,
Hutchison, & Bown, in press; Marques, Abrams, Paez, &
Martinez-Taboada, 1998; Masser & Abrams, 2001; Viki &
Abrams, 2002).
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Received September 15, 2001
Revision received April 24, 2002
Accepted May 8, 2002
125
SEXISM AND PERCEPTIONS OF RAPE
... This is because BS represents more subjectively positive attitudes towards women than do both HS and AMMSA; nevertheless, people high (vs. low) in BS also blame a female victim more if they perceive her behaviour as inconsistent with traditional gender roles (Abrams et al., 2003). Other constructs showing some conceptual overlap with AMMSA-21 are social dominance orientation (SDO; Ho et al., 2015) and right-wing authoritarianism (RWA; Altemeyer, 1988). ...
... Correlations of AMMSA-21 with less openly hostile sexist attitudes, as measured by the BS subscale of the ASI, were also positive, but lower than those of AMMSA-21 with HS. This matches previous findings where BS predicted the blaming of rape victims who departed from traditional gender roles (Abrams et al., 2003). Positive correlations of AMMSA-21 also emerged with constructs involving the derogation of disadvantaged groups, such as RWA (Altemeyer, 1988) and SDO (Ho et al., 2015). ...
... Para analizar la validez de criterio, pronosticamos que AMMSA-21 tendría una alta correlación con el sexismo hostil (SH; Glick & Fiske, 1996), un constructo estrechamente relacionado, y ligeramente menos alta con el sexismo benévolo (SB; Glick & Fiske, 1996). Esto se debe a que el SB representa actitudes subjetivamente más positivas hacia las mujeres que el SH y la AMMSA; no obstante, las personas con un alto (frente a bajo) SB también culpan más a una víctima mujer si perciben que su conducta no es compatible con los roles tradicionales de género (Abrams et al., 2003).Otros constructos que muestran un solapamiento conceptual con AMMSA-21 son la orientación a la dominancia social (SDO; Ho et al., 2015) y el autoritarismo de derechas (RWA; Altemeyer, 1988). Ambos SDO y RWA representan ideologías que fomentan los prejuicios contra los miembros del exogrupo, y contribuyen a justificar la desigualdad social (Jost et al., 2003). ...
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The authors present a revised version of the Acceptance of Modern Myths About Sexual Aggression scale (AMMSA-21) in four languages (English, German, Polish and Spanish) and examine its reliability and validity (total N = 1,459). AMMSA-21 addresses themes emerging in recent public discourse (e.g., beliefs about false accusations) and contents similar to the original scale (e.g., antagonism towards victims’ demands); with 21 items, it is 30% shorter than the original. Factor analyses suggested that AMMSA-21 may be treated as a unidimensional construct. Across the four language versions, AMMSA-21 showed high internal consistency and criterion validity (positive correlations with hostile and benevolent sexism, social dominance orientation, right-wing authoritarianism); its scores were unrelated to socially desirable responding. Also, AMMSA-21 predicted judgements of victim-blaming and rape proclivity in relation to acquaintance-rape scenarios. Mean differences across language versions (Spanish < English = German < Polish) are discussed in terms of cultural influences. In sum, AMMSA-21 represents a reliable, valid and economical measure of contemporary sexual aggression myths.
... Greater acceptance of rape myth is related to the crime being perceived as being less serious and greater victim blaming (Grubb and Turner, 2012). Some researchers have found that men are more likely than women to accept rape myths, and attribute greater victim blaming (Strömwall et al., 2014;Russell and Hand, 2017) although others have found a lack of differences between men and women (e.g., Abrams et al., 2003). ...
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Several studies have examined victim blaming in rape scenarios. However, there is limited research on the analysis of the perception of blame when two or more perpetrators are involved. The present article explores the perception of blame in cases involving rape based on the level of resistance shown by the victim and the presence of one or more perpetrators. A study was carried out involving 351 university students who responded to a survey after reading a hypothetical assault scenario. Six situations were established where the victim showed either low or high resistance, depending on whether the resistance was verbal or physical and verbal, and in the presence of one or two male perpetrators. It is expected that perpetrators are more culpable when acting in groups and that less resistance from the victim leads to greater attribution of blame. The results confirm that more blame is attributed to the perpetrators when they act in groups than when they act alone. Likewise, women consider the victim generally exerts greater resistance and this variable influences the attribution of greater blame.
... Quantitative research on attitudes toward sexual assault survivors has overwhelmingly focused narrowly on the public's tendency to blame survivors (e.g., Abrams et al., 2003;Brems & Wagner, 1994;Felson & Palmore, 2018). Much less is known about the broader array of stigma-related reactions-affective, attitudinal, and behavioral-that might characterize public responses to sexual assault. ...
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Previous research has examined the relationship between the Modern Sexism Scale (Swim, Aikin, Hall & Hunter, 1995) and the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI; Glick & Fiske, 1996) or the relationship between the Modern Sexism Scale and the Neosexism Scale (Campbell, Schellenberg, & Senn, 1997; Tougas, Brown, Beaton, & Joly, 1995). The present study examined the relationship between the ASI and the Neosexism Scale. Across three samples (N = 907), neosexism was found to be associated primarily with the hostile rather than the benevolent component of ambivalent sexism. Hostile sexism, benevolent sexism, and neosexism were all significantly associated with attitudes toward lesbians' and gay men's rights, and both hostile sexism and neosexism were significantly associated with attitudes toward women's rights. Neosexism and hostile sexism were negatively associated with a humanitarian-egalitarian orientation, whereas benevolent sexism was positively associated with a Protestant-ethic orientation. It is concluded that, although both the Neosexism Scale and ASI measure contemporary sexism, only the Benevolent Sexism subscale of the ASI taps the subjectively positive side of contemporary sexism.
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1. The Belief in a Just World.- 2. The First Experiment: The Effect of Fortuitous Reward.- 3. The Second Experiment: Observers' Reactions to the "Innocent Victim".- 4. The Third Experiment: The Martyred and Innocent Victims.- 5. Three Experiments That Assess the Effects of Sex and Educational Background of Observers, Experimenter and Observer Influence on One Another, and the Reactions of "Informed" and Nonimplicated Observers.- 6. Reactions to the Belief in a Just World Theory and Findings: The "Nay-Sayers".- 7. Condemning the Victimized.- 8. The Assignment of Blame.- 9. The Response to Victimization: Extreme Tests of the Belief in a Just World.- 10. Who Believes in a Just World: Dimension or Style.- 11. Deserving versus Justice.- References.
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Sample survey data from Seattle are used to examine fear of rape among urban women. The magnitude and prevalence of such fear are striking, particularly among younger women, who fear rape more than any other crime. The high fear attached to rape stems from the fact that it is perceived to be both extremely serious and relatively likely; and from the fact that it is closely associated with other serious offenses such as homicide and robbery. Fear of rape also lies behind fear of other offenses among women in our sample, and is strongly associated with certain social or lifestyle precautions.