Predicting perceptions of date rape: An examination of perpetrator motivation, relationship length, and gender role beliefs.

Gender role attitudes and knowledge of offender motivation may influence how observers view the culpability of victims and perpetrators of date rape.


Summary: This study examined the influence of offender motivations, relationship length, and gender role beliefs on perceptions of male-on-female date rape.  College students (N=348) from a Northeastern university were provided a vignette describing a date rape and questionnaire to record their attributions about the victim (i.e., culpability, credibility, trauma, pleasure) and perpetrator (i.e., culpability, guilt, sentence recommendations).  Findings indicated that offender motivation was associated with lower victim blame and relationship length did not predict rape attributions.  Participant gender was not a significant predictor of victim and perpetrator attributions.  However, gender role attitudes were significantly related to rape attributions.  Understanding motivations for rape may enhance observer sensitivity to the victim and increase culpability of the perpetrator in cases of date rape. 


Application:  This study may be used by advocates and prevention educators to help others (i.e., law enforcement, criminal justice system, family member, peers) become more sensitive to victims of date rape/sexual assault and help them realize that victims are not responsible for their rape/assault.     


Limitations:  Participants were mostly freshman and sophomore college students between the ages of 18 and 21 years.  Populations of different ages or that are not college students may perceive victim and perpetrator attributions differently.  

Angelone, D. J., Mitchell, D., & Lucente, L.
Reprint Status: 
Journal/Periodical Name: 
Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Published oneline, doi: 10.1177/0886260512436385.
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