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The Influence of Beliefs on Sexual Assault Attributions and Perceptions
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by Emily Risher Lynch and Lisa Thomson Ross - College of Charleston
This study investigated the relation between fundamentalist religious beliefs, victim alcohol consumption, and victim-perpetrator relationship on blaming a sexual assault victim and perceptions of the assault. Male and female participants (N = 124) read vignettes that varied female victim alcohol consumption (she drank 3 drinks or she did not drink) and couple relationship (acquaintances on a first date, steady dating partners, or married). Contrary to prior research, participants did not blame the victim more or hold her more responsible for the attack if she was drinking at the time of the assault. Participants were more likely to perceive the assault as a crime and to label the assault a rape if it was a first date as opposed to a dating couple or married couple. Program ideas to decrease victim blame are discussed.