Women's Attributions of Responsibility for Date Rape: The Influence of Empathy and Sex-Role Stereotyping

By Coller, Sarah A.; Resick, Patricia A. | Violence and Victims, January 1, 1987 | Go to article overview

Women's Attributions of Responsibility for Date Rape: The Influence of Empathy and Sex-Role Stereotyping


Coller, Sarah A., Resick, Patricia A., Violence and Victims


The purpose of the study presented here was to investigate the relationship among sex-role stereotyping, empathy with the victim, and subsequent blaming of the victim in response to a date-rape scenario. It was hypothesized that sex-typed (traditional) females would be less likely to perceive forced sex on a date as rape and would attribute more responsibility to the victim than would more egalitarian (nontraditional) females. It was also predicted that the enhancement of victim empathy would result in less victim blame. The subjects were 76 female undergraduates who were chosen on the basis of their extreme scores on a sex-role stereotyping scale. Vignettes describing a date rape were used to manipulate victim empathy. Findings indicated that although attributions of responsibility were influenced by the subject's sex-role stereotyping, the manipulation of empathy had no apparent influence on victim blame. Furthermore, the lack of correlation between the degree of victim empathy and the subject's own history of victimization suggests that victim empathy is not a component in victim blame.

Victims of crime, often hurt and suffering, are in need of emotional support from others. Unfortunately, some victims encounter considerable difficulty in obtaining the emotional support they need because they are blamed, to some extent, for their own victimization. This phenomenon, victim blame, appears to be particularly prevalent in regard to rape victims, with family members, friends, the police, and rape victims themselves frequently blaming the victim for the assault (Kanekar & Vaz, 1983; Mazelan, 1980).

PREVIOUS RESEARCH

By taking an attributional approach, past research has offered plausible explanations of why victim blame is particularly prevalent in regard to rape victims. Most of this research, however, has been based on the "classic" rape situation involving violent attack by a stranger and has examined only those characteristics of the victim or situation that influence the perceiver's attributions of causal responsibility. The study presented here attempted to extend the utility of attributional models, hypothesizing that the characteristics of the perceiver of a date-rape situation significantly influence subsequent attributions of the rape victim's causal responsibility for her own victimization.

Past research has suggested that the less the incident resembles a classic rape situation, the less likely the rape victim will be perceived as a "true" victim of a crime (Schwendinger & Schwendinger, 1980; Weis & Borges, 1973); hence, victim blame is more likely to occur. It is not surprising, then, that rape by a stranger is reported to the authorities more often than is rape by an acquaintance (Williams, 1984), despite evidence that rape by an acquaintance is much more common (Russell, 1984). Russell found that 35% of 930 randomly selected women in San Francisco were the victims of either attempted or completed rape by an acquaintance, with over a third of these incidents occurring on a date. In addition, more women reported attempted or completed date rape than rape by a stranger. One interpretation of this finding is that, in our society, alleged rapists are held less accountable when they sexually assault a date rather than a stranger and that forced sex on a date is usually not labeled as rape (Klemmack & Klemmack, 1976).

Recent research has attempted to delineate the factors leading an observer to conclude that a rape has occurred. The results have indicated that depictions of rape incidents in the literature (i.e., a mock courtroom case and vignettes describing forced sex on a date) led some subjects to view the situation as "justified sexual behavior" while others perceived it as unjustified rape (Fulero & Delara, 1976; Muehlenhard, Linton, Felts, & Andrews, 1985). This has led to alternative interpretations based on the attributes of the perceiver instead of the situation or the victim's characteristics for explaining causal attributions of a rape incident. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Women's Attributions of Responsibility for Date Rape: The Influence of Empathy and Sex-Role Stereotyping
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.