Volume 11

Perceptions of Victim Responsibility as a Function of Victim Gender and Coping Styles in Sexual Assault

Erin M. Stevenson

This study was designed to provide a better understanding about perceptions of rape victims based on their gender and coping behavior. One hundred and twenty-five college participants were assigned to read one of four scenarios depicting a sexual assault involving a male or female victim whose coping style was either self-blame or chance. Participants were asked to rate how responsible the character was for the assault, answer questions regarding their attitudes toward rape victims, and provide demographic information such as personal experience with sexual assault. Differences in perceived responsibility based on gender and coping style did not emerge. However, personal sexual assault experience did negatively correlate with perceived responsibility, while negative attitudes toward rape victims correlated positively.

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