Status, Threat, and Stereotypes: Understanding the Function of Rape Myth Acceptance

Kristine M. Chapleau, Debra L. Oswald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study applied system justification theory to understand the function of rape myth acceptance. Participants read a rape scenario that manipulated the difference in status between the perpetrator and victim, as well as the potential threat to perpetrator as depicted by whom the victim told about the rape. People's opposition to equality and gender separately and together predicted rape myth acceptance. People with higher opposition to equality reported less rape myth acceptance when a higher-status perpetrator got away with rape than when he was reported to police. Conversely, people with lower opposition to equality reported more rape myth acceptance when the higher-status perpetrator got away with rape. People's opposition to equality and gender interacted such that men with lower opposition to equality also reported more rape myth acceptance when the equal- and lower-status perpetrator got away with rape. Gender predicted rape myth acceptance such that when the lower-status perpetrator was reported to the police, women reported more rape myth acceptance whereas men reported less rape myth acceptance. This is the first study to show that rape myth acceptance is malleable and strategically motivated. These findings have implications for not only understanding rape myth acceptance, but also other ideologies that explain unethical behavior by advantaged groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-41
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Justice Research
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

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Keywords

  • Liberal reactive hypothesis
  • Rape myth acceptance
  • Sexual violence
  • Stereotypes
  • System justification theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Anthropology
  • Law

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