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Rape Rumors: The Effects of Reporting or Denying Rumors of Sexual Assaults on Campus


  • 1The research presented in this paper was presented previously at the 74th annual Midwestern Psychological Association Conference, Chicago, IL, May 2002.


Two studies examine the effects of reporting rumors of sexual assaults on a college campus. Participants read headlines and short articles about an unfamiliar college. Key headlines and articles reported an increase in sexual assaults as a fact, a rumor, a denied rumor, or a proven falsehood. Participants then rated perceptions of the college, including opinions on the level of crime and safety on campus. Results showed that both reporting the crimes as rumors and reporting denials of the rumors increased concerns compared to control conditions, but these concerns were lower than the concerns raised by reporting the assaults as fact. Findings are in line with predictions and match previous research on rumors and the impact of reported innuendo.