Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Jane Brack, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Catherine Chang, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Cirleen DeBlaere, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Brian Dew, Ph.D.

Abstract

The United States Department of Justice reported that approximately 284,000 individuals were victims of sexual violence in 2014 alone (Truman & Langton, 2015). Despite the prevalence of this crime, only about 34% of women in 2014 reported their victimization to the police. Several studies suggest that low reporting rates of sexual assault crimes, as well as the low rates of arrests and convictions, are in part due to a phenomenon known as “Rape Myths” (Chapleau & Oswald, 2013; Cohn, Zinzow, Resnick, & Kilpatrick, 2013; Darwinkel, Powell, & Tidmarsh, 2013; Field, 1978; Gray, 2006; Grubb & Turner, 2014; Heath, Lynch, Fritch, & Wong, 2013; Hildebrand & Najdowski, 2015). This manuscript begins with an overview of rape myth acceptance and the clinical implications of rape myths for rape victims/survivors. The study that follows makes three major attempts. The first is to determine whether or not sexist attitudes mediate the relationship between conformity to gender norms and rape myth acceptance. The second is to examine the potential moderating effect of closeness to a rape victim in the relationships between conformity to gender norms, sexist attitudes and rape myth acceptance. Third, previous studies suggest that rape myth acceptance among African Americans is related to African American men and women’s unfair treatment in the realm of rape crimes (Crenshaw, 1994). This study therefore, also investigated if experiences of racial discrimination are related to rape myth acceptance among African Americans. Participants were 618 students from a large university. Results from this sample did not support the proposed moderated mediation model. However, conformity to masculine norms and sexist attitudes were significant predictors rape myth acceptance. Being close to a rape victim was also significantly and positively correlated with rape myth acceptance. African American participants had significantly higher rape myth acceptance scores than White participants, and experiences of racism were significantly and positively related to conformity to masculine norms. The findings of this study clarify some beliefs about rape myth acceptance and its correlates. Further studies investigating the ways in which rape myth acceptance might be related to other constructs are still warranted.

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