Victim and Observer Characteristics as Determinants of Responsibility Attributions to Victims of Rape1


  • Barbara Krahé

    1. The University of Sussex, Brighton, England
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    • 2

      Requests for reprints should be addressed to Barbara Krahé, Department of Psychology, University of Mainz, Postfach 3980, 6500 Mainz, West Germany.

  • 1

    The author is now at the University of Mainz, West Germany. The present research was facilitated by a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation, West Germany.


Two field studies were conducted to investigate the influence of observer and victim characteristics on attributions of victim and assailant responsibility in a rape case. In the first study, male and female subjects completed a measure of rape myth acceptance and were presented with a rape account after which they were asked to attribute responsibility to victim and assailant. In the second study, a new sample was asked to attribute responsibility to victim and assailant on the basis of one of two rape accounts in which victim's pre-rape behavior was manipulated. Results showed that both rape myth acceptance and victims' pre-rape behavior influenced the degree of responsibility attributed to victims and assailants. No significant effects of subject gender were found. A more complex conceptualization is suggested of the link between observer and victim characteristics in social reactions to and evaluations of rape victims.