Sex differences in attitudes and attributions of responsibility in acquaintance rape situations

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Civiletto, Christine L.
Perrone, Kristin M.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
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This study examined sex differences in attitudes and attributions of responsibility in acquaintance rape situations. The existing literature in this area has focused solely on examining explicit attitudes, or those attitudes that are within an individual's conscious awareness. No attention, however, has been focused on the implicit attitudes that individuals have in acquaintance rape situations. Implicit attitudes are those that operate outside of an individual's awareness and reflect his or her underlying attitudes and beliefs about an object. In an effort to examine implicit attitudes in acquaintance rape situations, a variation of Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz's (1998) Implicit Associations Test was utilized. Additionally, Burt's (1980) Rape Myth Acceptance Scale, the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale and an Attribution of Responsibility measure were administered. It was hypothesized that responses to these measures would predict participants' sex. A stepwise discriminant function analysis was conducted. Age and attributions of responsibility were identified as the factors that best predicted sex. Significant relationships were identified between Rape Myth Acceptance and Attributions of Responsibility. Those participants who adhered to rape myths were more likely to attribute responsibility for the acquaintance rape to the survivor than were those who did not adhere to rape myths. Significant sex differences were also identified on the Attribution of Responsibility measure, with men being more likely than women to attribute responsibility for acquaintance rape to the survivor. Limitations to generalizability of these results and implications for future research and clinical practice are discussed.