Victim but not perpetrator attractiveness influences blame attribution in cases of male sexual assault

Graham G Scott, Pamela-Suzanne Dawson, Louise Maxwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Male sexual assaults are under-reported and under-convicted, with blame often being attributed to the victim. Such attributions are thought to be driven by defensive heuristics such as belief in a just world, and rape myths based on an “ideal” masculine stereotype. We manipulated victim- and perpetrator-attractiveness in a male sexual assault scenario, and measured victim- and perpetrator-blame and perceived assault severity. One hundred and forty-four participants were recruited on the university campus and from local community centres. Attractive victims received more blame than their unattractive counterparts, while attractiveness did not affect perpetrator blame. We suggest that attractive male victims receive more blame because they are believed to possess positive traits (what is beautiful is good) but, as we also believe we live in a just world, they are judged to be more responsible for the act perpetrated against them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-19
JournalJournal of Psychological Sciences
Volume1
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

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