Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology

First Advisor

Alan M. Gross

Second Advisor

Sarah Bilsky

Third Advisor

Carrie Smith

Relational Format



Rape is a widespread problem, particularly on college campuses. While most research has focused on female victims, male victimization is more common than previously thought. Studies reveal that gender may play an important role in rape myth acceptance, as male victims of rape committed by female perpetrators are often perceived as more responsible for being raped and less traumatized than in cases with male perpetrators. Rape myth acceptance is associated with victim blame, as individuals who accept rape myths are more likely to attribute responsibility to rape victims for the assault. Rape myth acceptance and victim blame both influence bystander intervention, as those who endorse rape myths and blame the victim are less likely to intervene before, during, or after sexual assault.This study examined the impact of participant gender, victim gender, and victim- perpetrator relationship on victim blame and bystander aid in a college population. Participants were 265 college students, aged 18-25, who were recruited online at a university located in the southeastern United States, and an online research participation platform (Prolific). Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions involving a vignette of a cisgender heterosexual rape. Vignettes differed in terms of victim gender (male or female) and relationship between victim and perpetrator (dating or acquaintance). After reading the vignette, participants completed measures assessing victim blame, bystander aid, demographic information, rape myth acceptance, alcohol consumption, history of sexual victimization, and social desirability. Results indicated that male participants endorsed higher levels of victim blame and lower levels of bystander aid than female participants, male victims were blamed more than female victims, and participants were more willing to provide bystander aid to female victims than to male victims. Results also suggested no significant difference between acquaintance and dating conditions with regards to victim blame or bystander aid. In addition, rape myth acceptance predicted victim blame and was significantly negatively associated with bystander aid across conditions. History of sexual victimization and alcohol consumption were significantly negatively associated with bystander aid in the female-victim condition but not the male-victim condition. Results and implications of findings are discussed.


Clinical Psychology



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