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Blame Attributions in Multiple Perpetrator Rape Cases: The Impact of Sympathy, Consent, Force, and Beliefs

Journal article
Authors Kerstin Adolfsson
Leif Strömwall
Sara Landström
Published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence
ISSN 0886-2605
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Links journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/08...
Keywords rape, victim blame, multiple perpetrators, use of force, beliefs
Subject categories Applied Psychology, Psychology

Abstract

Victims of multiple perpetrator rape (MPR) have been found to be an especially vulnerable group. This study examined effects of MPR and perpetrators’ use of force on attributions of victim and perpetrator blame. In two large experiments (total N = 2,928), Swedish community members read scenarios depicting an MPR and subsequently made several ratings of blame, rape myth acceptance (RMA), just world beliefs, sympathy for the victim, perception of consent, and trust in the legal system. Data were analyzed with a multianalytical approach using both analyses of variance as well as exploratory analyses. In Experiment 1, more blame was attributed to a victim of MPR than a victim of a lone perpetrator rape (LPR). In Experiment 2, no effect of used force was found on levels of attributed blame. In both experiments, hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that four components, identified through principal components analyses, explained substantial shares of the variance in both victim and perpetrator blame. The best individual predictors were participants’ perception of consent, sympathy for the victim, and RMA. The study shows the importance of studying participants’ beliefs and attitudes about rape and that victim-blaming research needs both theory development and greater methodological awareness. Implications for victim support services are also discussed.

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