IS DATE RAPE JUSTIFIABLE? The Effects of Dating Activity, Who Initiated, Who Paid, and Men's Attitudes toward Women


  • The authors wish to thank Doug George and Ted Heap for assistance with data preparation, Anne Coleman for assistance with statistical analyses, and Jackie Sandles for assistance with manuscript preparation. Requests for reprints and other correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Charlene Muehlenhard, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843.

  • Published by Cambridge University Press.


In two related studies, 268 male undergraduates rated the justifiability of date rape under various circumstances. As predicted, rape was rated as significantly more justifiable (a) if the couple went to the man's apartment rather than to a religious function, (b) if the woman asked the man out rather than vice versa (significant in Study 1 only), and (c) if the man paid all the dating expenses rather than splitting them with the woman. It was also predicted that men who were classified as traditional on the Attitudes toward Women Scale would rate rape as more justifiable than nontraditional men, especially under the three conditions mentioned above. These results were always in the predicted directions, but did not always reach statistical significance. Two explanations for the differences between traditional and nontraditional men are explored.