University of Twente Student Theses


Societal Perceptions of the Freezing Response in Male and Female Rape Victims

Ostermann, J.C. (2023) Societal Perceptions of the Freezing Response in Male and Female Rape Victims.

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Abstract:This study investigated the impact of a rape victim’s gender and behaviour on perceptions of victim blame, perpetrator blame, and seriousness of the crime. It compared perceptions of fictional rape scenarios involving a male or female victim who either froze or refused during the attack. Hypotheses proposed more victim blame for male victims, freezing victims, and male freezing victims, more perpetrator blame for male perpetrators and perpetrators with refusing victims, and higher levels of perceived seriousness of the crime for male-to-female rape and rape of refusing victims. Exploratory analyses investigated the moderating role of rape myth acceptance on the relationship between victim behaviour and rape perceptions. A 2x2 between-subjects design tested the hypotheses using a sample consisting of 273 participants. Participants read a mock police report describing an alleged rape situation with a female or male victim who either refused or froze, while perpetrator gender was adjusted heteronormatively. After that, participants received a questionnaire assessing their perceptions of the rape. General linear models indicated that freezing and male victims were blamed more than refusing and female victims. Perpetrators were blamed more when the victim refused, but male and female perpetrators were blamed equally. Seriousness of the crime was higher for male perpetrators and higher for those with a refusing victim. While male rape myth acceptance did not moderate the relationship between male victim behaviour and the dependent variables, female rape myth acceptance moderated the relationship between female victim behaviour and the dependent variables. This study highlights the influence of societal expectations on perceptions of rape and its victims and further points out deficiencies in current laws that mandate how rape victims should behave.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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