Physical Size Stereotyping as a Mediator of Attributions of Responsibility in an Alleged Date-Rape Situation1


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    Portions of this article were presented at the Scientific Meeting of the Maine Psychological Association, Rockport, Maine, April 1995.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Richard M. Ryckman, Department of Psychology, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5742.


This research focuses on male and female observers' attributions of responsibility to a female accuser and a male accused of rape. Observers read 1 of 2 scenarios in which the accuser was either smaller or larger than the accused and then made judgments concerning each person's responsibility for what happened. The data indicated that the larger accuser was considered more responsible than the smaller accuser and the larger accused was perceived to be more responsible than the smaller accused. Females attributed more responsibility and had less sympathy, respect, and liking for the accused, whereas males attributed more responsibility and reported more negative attitudes toward the accuser. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for legal and health-care professionals.