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

McKimmie, B.M, Masser, B.M and Bongiorno, R (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, 29 (12). pp. 2273-2303. ISSN 0886-2605

Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260513518843

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.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: rape, sexual assault, victim stereotypes, offense prototypes
Divisions: School of Sciences
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260513518843
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2022 19:09
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2022 19:09
URI / Page ID: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/14593
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