Factors Associated with Rape-Supportive Attitudes: Sociodemographic Variables, Aggressive Personality, and Sexist Attitudes

By Sierra, Juan Carlos; Santos-Iglesias, Pablo et al. | The Spanish Journal of Psychology, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Factors Associated with Rape-Supportive Attitudes: Sociodemographic Variables, Aggressive Personality, and Sexist Attitudes


Sierra, Juan Carlos, Santos-Iglesias, Pablo, Gutiérrez-Quintanilla, Ricardo, Bermúdez, María Paz, Buela-Casal, Gualberto, The Spanish Journal of Psychology


The objectives of this study were to determine the influence of various sociodemographic variables and estimate the impact of additional psychological factors (aggressive personality traits and the sexual double standard) on rape-supportive attitudes. A sample of 700 men and 800 women from El Salvador aged between 18 and 40 years completed the Social Desirability Scale, the Double Standard Scale, the Aggression Questionnaire, the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2 and the Rape-Supportive Attitude Scale. Results show gender-based and age-based differences in rape-supportive attitudes, as well as an interaction between gender and age. They also highlight the importance of the sexual double standard and aggressive personality traits in explaining such attitudes.

Keywords: rape-supportive attitudes, sociodemographic variables, hostility, double standard, gender differences.

Los objetivos de este estudio fueron determinar la influencia de ciertas variables sociodemográficas y estimar el impacto de una serie de factores psicológicos adicionales (rasgos de personalidad agresiva y doble moral sexual) sobre las actitudes favorables hacia la violación. Una muestra comprendida por 700 hombres y 800 mujeres de El Salvador, con edades comprendidas entre los 18 y los 40 años, completaron la Escala de Deseabilidad Social, Escala de Doble Moral, Cuestionario de Agresión, Inventario de Expresión de la Ira Estado-Rasgo 2 y la Escala de Actitudes Favorables hacia la Violación. Los resultados mostraron diferencias en las actitudes favorables hacia la violación en función de la edad y el sexo, así como una interacción entre el sexo y la edad. También muestran la importancia de la doble moral sexual y los rasgos de personalidad agresiva en la explicación de dichas actitudes.

Palabras clave: actitudes favorables hacia la violación, variables sociodemográficas, hostilidad, doble moral, diferencias de género.

Attitudes and beliefs about rape are crucial factors that need to be considered to explain aggressive sexual behavior of men towards women (Bell et al., 1992; Echeburúa, Sarasua, Zubizarreta, & de Corral, 2009; Frese, Moya, & Megías, 2004; Heise, 1998; Osman, 2004). These attitudes include toleration of rape, which denies or justifies sexual aggression of men towards women. Lottes (1991) described the various types of such beliefs: women enjoy sexual violence, women are responsible for rape prevention, sex rather than power is the primary motivation for rape, rape happens only to certain kinds of women, a woman is less desirable after she has been raped, women falsely report many rape claims, and rape is justified in some situations. These beliefs cause two different kinds of effects; first, they promote various types of aggressive sexual behavior towards women, and second, they encourage tolerance of abuse. Moreover, they also extend the recovery time of rape victims (Burt, 1980), known as secondary victimization (Trujano Ruiz & Raich i Escursell, 2000). As regards the first effect, Lottes (1991) found a significant correlation between rape-supportive attitudes and sexual aggressiveness. In addition, Smith and Stewart (2003), who conducted a study on a sample of athletes, concluded that those with rape-supportive attitudes and hostile attitudes towards women had a high probability of being sexually aggressive. It has also been shown that a decrease in these attitudes reduces aggressive sexual behavior (Lanier, 2001; Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1994). As regards the second effect, Malamuth (1989) showed that men who feel attracted to sexual aggression tend to perceive the experience of rape as something positive, as compared to men who do not feel attracted to sexual violence. Morry and Winkler (2001) showed that acceptance of rape increases acceptance of coercive behavior towards women. Thus, dysfunctional cognitions justify and maintain aggression and rape-supportive attitudes in a framework of false beliefs about rape, rapists and victims (Burt, 1980; Murnen, Wright, & Kaluzny, 2002). …

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