Attributions of Responsibility for Rape: Differences Across Familiarity of Situation, Gender, and Acceptance of Rape Myths1


  • 1

    The authors of this paper are two psychologists and two anthropologists who together make up the Situated Behaviour Research Group in the Behavioural Studies program at the University of Queensland. Their separate interests and experience include studies of the forensic interviewing of children, workplace change, legal rights of indigenous peoples, and community responses to crime and policing.

Peter Newcombe, School of Social Work and Human Services, University of Queensland, 11 Salisbury Road, Ipswich, Queensland, Australia 4305. E-mail:


In 2004 in Australia, controversy over the alleged involvement of elite footballers in incidents of sexual assault highlighted a tendency to denigrate the victims and excuse the perpetrators. To investigate whether rape myths were prevalent enough to explain this public response, 102 university students were surveyed for their beliefs and determinations of blame in rape situations. Although there was a gender difference in the rates of rape myth acceptance, with males more likely to accept these beliefs, these were not evident in decisions about victim blame or perpetrator blame. However, males and high rape myth acceptors were significantly more likely to minimize the seriousness of the rape situation. These effects increased with familiarity depicted in the situation.