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Victim blame in single versus multiple perpetrator rape cases

Conference contribution
Authors Kerstin Adolfsson
Leif Strömwall
Sara Landström
Published in The 26th meeting of the European Association of psychology and Law (EAPL), Toulouse, France, July 5-8, 2016
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords victim blame, rape, multiple perpetrator rape cases
Subject categories Psychology, Applied Psychology

Abstract

Substantial research has been conducted in the field of victim blaming, but still we do not fully understand the complexity of how and why people tend to blame rape victims. Two important aspects that have been more or less neglected in previous research within the field of victim blame are multiple perpetrator rape cases and the level of force used by the perpetrator(s). Since the prevalence of acquaintance rape is higher than of stranger rape, we conducted two experiments using a setting in which rapes may occur but not typically included in previous research. According to Swedish legislation, a rape situation with more than one perpetrator is considered an aggravated crime, irrespective of the level of force used. However, we wanted to examine if the level of force used and/or number of perpetrators had any impact on levels of blame attributed to the victim. To investigate this we conducted an online multi-experimental study with a Swedish community sample. Participants read a scenario describing a rape and thereafter provided ratings of victim blame, Belief in a Just World and Rape Myth Acceptance, as well as their trust in the Swedish justice system and self-experience of sexual victimization. All scenarios described the same four people and the relation between them, colleagues, was held constant. In the first experiment (N = 1704), number of perpetrators (one or three) was manipulated. We used number of perpetrators and participant gender as independent variables and victim blame as the dependent variable. In the second experiment we held number of perpetrators (three) constant but manipulated the level of force used. Level of force and participant gender were the independent variables and victim blame the dependent variable. At the conference in Toulouse we will present the results from our ongoing statistical analyses, in the hope of bringing new, important knowledge of victim blaming attitudes.

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