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Blame and fault attributions in sexual violence: are these distinct?

Irina Anderson (School of Psychology, University of East London, London, UK)
Helena Bissell (School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Article publication date: 10 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This study seeks to examine whether blame and fault assigned to victims and perpetrators in a hypothetical sexual violence case are distinct conceptually, and whether they are affected by gender of participant, perpetrator and victim.

Design/methodology/approach

Participants read an incident of either female or male rape, perpetrated by either a female or a male, and assigned attributions of blame and fault to both victims and perpetrators. Participants also completed Burt's Rape Myth Acceptance Scale.

Findings

Findings showed that none of the independent variables had any effect on victim attributions of blame and fault, only affecting blame and fault assigned to perpetrators. Perpetrators of male victim rape were assigned more blame than perpetrators of female victim rape. In terms of fault: male participants reduced the amount of fault that they attributed to female perpetrators relative to male perpetrators; and female participants increased the amount of fault that they attributed to female perpetrators relative to male perpetrators. In addition, greater endorsement of traditional sex‐role attitudes and rape myths was associated with higher rape victim blame.

Originality/value

Findings are discussed in relation to social norms, social categorisation theory and differential focus of specific rape victim vs rape victims in general.

Keywords

Citation

Anderson, I. and Bissell, H. (2011), "Blame and fault attributions in sexual violence: are these distinct?", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 222-229. https://doi.org/10.1108/17596591111187747

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited