WHAT INFLUENCES BELIEVING CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE DISCLOSURES? THE ROLES OF DEPICTED MEMORY PERSISTENCE, PARTICIPANT GENDER, TRAUMA HISTORY, AND SEXISM

Authors


  • Lisa DeMarni Cromer and Jennifer J. Freyd, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon.

  • Lisa DeMarni Cromer is now at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Department of Psychiatry, in Syracuse, NY.

  • This research was supported in part by the Trauma and Oppression Research Fund at the University of Oregon Foundation and Center for the Study of Women in Society at the University of Oregon. We are grateful for the numerous contributions to this research made by Sanjay Srivastava and the members of the Freyd Dynamics Lab at the University of Oregon. Thanks to Anne DePrince, Kathryn Quina, and to our anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.

  • Preliminary results from this study were presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Seattle, WA, February 15, 2004.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Lisa DeMarni Cromer, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Department of Psychiatry, 713 Harrison St., Syracuse, NY 13210. E-mail: Cromerl@upstate.edu

Abstract

This vignette study investigated factors that influence believing child sexual abuse disclosures. College student participants (N= 318) in a university human subject pool completed measures about their own trauma history and responded to questions about sexist attitudes. Participants then read vignettes in which an adult disclosed a history of child sexual abuse, rated disclosures for accuracy and believability, and judged the level of abusiveness. Continuous memories were believed more than recovered memories. Men believed abuse reports less than did women, and people who had not experienced trauma were less likely to believe trauma reports. Gender and personal history interacted such that trauma history did not impact women's judgments but did impact men's judgments. Men with a trauma history responded similarly to women with or without a trauma history. High sexism predicted lower judgments of an event being abusive. Hostile sexism was negatively correlated with believing abuse disclosures. Results are considered in light of myths about child sexual abuse.

Ancillary