Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Cynthia Calkins

Second Reader

Elizabeth Jeglic

Third Advisor

Louis Schlesinger


Reports have shown that about 18 percent of women and 1 percent of men in the United States reported experiencing rape in the past (Center for Disease and Control Prevention, 2011). In addition, a previous study has shown that victims of rape are often reluctant to report the incidents, because they fear society’s perceptions of rape (Deming, Covan, Swan & Billings, 2013). Given this, it is important to study factors influencing individuals’ attribution of blame in rape. While many studies have focused on the role of gender, sexual orientation, and alcohol influence in perceptions of rape, research on the role of race is scarce. The purpose of this study was to analyze the role of victim’s and perpetrator’s race in individuals’ attribution of blame in rape. This study extended previous literature on the relationship between rape blaming attitudes and race, by using a more diverse sample of subjects and by focusing on White, Black and Latino victims and perpetrators. The hypothesis of this study was that victim’s and perpetrator’s race will influence individuals’ attribution of blame to either the victim or the perpetrator in rape scenarios. Specifically, we hypothesized that Black and Latino perpetrators and victims will be blamed more than White victims and perpetrators. In the study, participants were randomly assigned to one of 9 conditions. All participants were assessed on the dependent measure attribution of blame. Unlike previous studies, our findings showed that victim and offender characteristics, specifically their race, did not affect participants’ perceptions of rape. The results of our study are useful for the implementation of policies and programs directed to change society’s perceptions on rape, and therefore increase rape reporting rates.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.