TOWARDS A NEW THEORY OF SOCIAL PERCEPTION: THE EFFECTS OF SEX AND SEXUALITY ON RAPE ATTRIBUTIONS
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Heterosexual male victims and female perpetrators tend to be omitted from rape perception research as well as legal and everyday notions of rape. Therefore this thesis examined the effects of sex and sexuality on rape attributions. Criticisms of social representations theory provided the rationale for a new theory of social perceptions and for combining methods normally associated with opposing epistemologies and ontological beliefs. A grounded theory derived from ten interviews revealed double standards in the way that men and women are labelled for the same behaviours, whereby female-perpetrated male rape was considered less serious than male-perpetrated rape. Discourse analysis of newspaper coverage of a case involving a female and two males accused of raping a woman also revealed double standards in the way the defendants were constructed. All of the defendants were constructed as deviant, but in ways that served to direct blame away from the males and towards the female. A 16 condition, multi-factorial. Internet-based experiment suggested that female perpetrators tend to be blamed more than males, and male victims tend to be blamed more than female victims. Younger participants and those high in rape myth acceptance (RMA) blamed victims more than older participants and those low in RMA. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
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