The Effects of Social Influence on Perceptual and Affective Reactions to Scenes of Sexual Violence1


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    The authors thank Janet Pau, Matthew Janik, Brett Bender, Glenn Clayton, and Adeena Bleich for their assistance with data collection, and Danielle McCarthy for her comments on a draft of this manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Anne Marie Apanovitch, Department of Psychology, Yale University, P.O. Box 208205, New Haven, CT 06520-8205. E-mail:


In 2 experiments, we examined the effect of social influence (discussion and modeling) on men's and women's perceptual and affective reactions to a sexually violent film scene depicting gang rape. In Experiment 1, women who discussed the film rated the perpetrators as more responsible compared to participants in all other conditions. Men who did not discuss the film reported higher levels of positive affect compared to participants in all other conditions. In Experiment 2, men and women were affected by the social influence manipulation similarly. As predicted, participants differed in their attributions of responsibility depending on a confederate's response to the film scene. Participants who heard a confederate say that the men in the film were responsible for the rape rated these men as relatively more responsible than did participants in a neutral confederate condition or in a condition in which the confederate said that the woman in the film was responsible for the rape.