What counts as rape? The effect of offense prototypes, victim stereotypes, and participant gender on how the complainant and defendant are perceived

McKimmie, Blake M., Masser, Barbara M. and Bongiorno, Renata (2014) What counts as rape? The effect of offense prototypes, victim stereotypes, and participant gender on how the complainant and defendant are perceived. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, OnlineFirst 1-31. doi:10.1177/0886260513518843

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Author McKimmie, Blake M.
Masser, Barbara M.
Bongiorno, Renata
Title What counts as rape? The effect of offense prototypes, victim stereotypes, and participant gender on how the complainant and defendant are perceived
Journal name Journal of Interpersonal Violence   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0886-2605
1552-6518
Publication date 2014-01-26
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0886260513518843
Volume OnlineFirst
Start page 1
End page 31
Total pages 31
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, CA, United States
Publisher Sage Publications
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Jurors rely on a range of schemas when evaluating allegations of rape and sexual assault. For example, they may be influenced by the prototypicality of the alleged offense, the stereotypicality of the victim, or gender-related stereotypes. These schemas have often been conflated however, making it difficult to determine the unique impact of each on jurors’ perceptions. To be able to effectively counter any schema-related misconceptions, we must first identify which beliefs are important and when. An experiment (N = 420) examined the independent effects of offense prototypicality and victim stereotypicality on mock jurors’ perceptions. As expected, victim stereotypicality had a greater effect on judgments in the counter-prototypical (acquaintance) assault scenario than in the prototypical (stranger) assault scenario. When the complainant was described as being a counter-stereotypical victim in the acquaintance rape scenario, the defendant was seen as less likely to be guilty and evaluated more positively and the complainant less positively compared with when the complainant was described as being a stereotypical victim. Analysis of the qualitative data suggested a focus on different factors in reaching verdicts in the stranger and acquaintance rape scenarios. Results were interpreted as evidence that jurors “step down” through a hierarchy of schemas in their attempts to determine what happened in cases of rape and sexual assault.
Keyword Rape
Sexual assault
Victim stereotypes
Offense prototypes
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online before print January 26, 2014

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 4 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 11 Feb 2014, 12:42:42 EST by Renata Bongiorno on behalf of School of Psychology