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‘She asked for it’: A mixed-methods approach to exploring perceptions and stereotypes of rape in association with personality characteristics

Rosenek, Norma (2015) ‘She asked for it’: A mixed-methods approach to exploring perceptions and stereotypes of rape in association with personality characteristics. Southampton Solent University. (Unpublished)


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This study investigated the association between the perceptions of aggression, violence, coercion and consent in rape and individual personality characteristics, such as psychopathic and aggressive traits, and acceptance of rape myths and sexual aggression using a mixed-methods approach. Fifty-three participants with previous exposure to sexually violent material through profession, personal or study interests, rated three rape scenarios with male perpetrator and female victim in different situations, as well as one control scenario portraying a consensual sexual situation for perception of aggression, violence, coercion and consent. Psychopathic and aggressive traits, as well as acceptance of modern myths and sexual aggression were assessed using LSRP, BGA and AMMSA scales, respectively, grouping participants in high and low after performing a median-split. Standard multiple regression results indicated that psychopathy was the main predictor for low perception of aggression, violence and coercion, and high perception of consent. Acceptance of sexual aggression predicted coercion in one occasion, while aggressive behaviour was not a predictor. Repeated-measures MANOVA findings showed that females rated coercion significantly higher than males in one rape situation, while no significant differences were found between high and low scoring participants. Thematic Analysis allowed insights to patterned responses showing influences on perceptions of rape, showing that particularly participants in high groups used rape myths, victim-blame and gender stereotypes. Mostly, findings clearly indicated differences in perception of factors contributing to rape, however, in one situation identification of factors was similar between groups, hinting that the intensity of perception of rapes varied. Findings are intended to further contribute to rape prevention programmes.

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