Rape myth acceptance, victim blame attribution and Just World Beliefs: a rapid evidence assessment

Kirsten J. Russell, Christopher J. Hand

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Abstract

Background
Rape is underreported, potentially because individuals self-blame and/or are blamed by others. Research predominantly illustrates male-perpetrated stranger-rape of females; thus, there may be a perception that rape-myth acceptance (RMA) and victim-blaming are most prevalent in males. The purpose of this rapid evidence assessment was to investigate the availability of high-quality research into the effects of Just World Beliefs, perpetrator/victim gender, and stranger- and acquaintance/marital-rape scenarios on victim-blaming and RMA.
Methods
Several electronic databases were searched for empirical papers using terms including: ‘victim blame’, ‘rape myth acceptance’, ‘Just World Beliefs’, ‘type of rape’ and ‘gender’. Gough’s (2007) weight of evidence framework was used to assess quality prior to inclusion.
Findings
Studies retained after filtering and quality assessment suggested that RMA was predictive of victim-blaming with both male and female ‘victims’. Rape-myth acceptance is more prevalent in males even in male ‘victim’ scenarios, and Just World Belief was positively associated with RMA. Greater victim-blaming was attributed in stranger- vs. acquaintance-rape scenarios.
Discussion
There are no absolute conclusions regarding the role of gender or situational factors and rape-supportive/victim-blaming attitudes. Further empirical research is required to understand the prevalence of RMA in perceptions of marital rape and, particularly, homosexual marital rape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Volume37
Early online date16 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Keywords

  • rape myth acceptance; victim blame; just world belief; victim gender; perpetrator gender; type of rape

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