Examining the Blaming of Rape Victims and Perpetrators: Rape Myths, Belief in a Just World, Gender Role Beliefs, and Applied Findings
thesisposted on 2011-11-18, 13:11 authored by Emma Ruth Sleath
Interest in research on victim blaming has remained significant since it came to the fore in the 1970s. Victim blaming, of both male and female victims of rape, is central to this thesis in understanding the contribution to this of a number of motivational beliefs and stereotypes (i.e., rape myth acceptance, belief in a just world, and gender role traits/beliefs). As well as this, this thesis develops some understanding of rape perpetrator blaming, broadening the focus of research away from the victim. Most of all, this thesis seeks to increase the understanding of police attitudes concerning rape victims and the influence of specialist police training and experience in dealing with rape victims. In a series of studies, vignette scenarios were given to 558 students, 101 non-students, and 157 police officers to assess their blaming attitudes towards the rape victim (male and/or female) and perpetrator (male). These studies found a lack of consistent gender effects in blaming but a strong consistent relationship between rape myth acceptance and victim blaming. Belief in a just world and gender role traits/beliefs demonstrated little effect on rape victim and perpetrator blaming. In the police officers sample, job experience and receiving specialist training to deal with rape victims did not affect the levels of blaming engaged in. This thesis has important implications for policy and criminal justice systems and the findings are discussed in the context of these.