Collegiate Perception of Rape Essay

This essay has a total of 3927 words and 22 pages.

Collegiate Perception of Rape

Chwee Lye Chng (Dec. 1999) An Assessment of College Students' Attitudes and Empathy
Toward Rape. College Student Journal


The study is a descriptive cross-sectional survey implemented to assess students'
attitudes toward rape and empathy toward survivors of rape. A pilot study using 30 college
students with a two-week interval was used to establish reliability of the ATR and RES.
Subject's birth day, month, and first three digits of their phone numbers were used as
identifiers for the retest portion of the pilot study. A two-tailed t test was performed
comparing test scores across the 2-week interval. Statistical analysis found a 1.0
correlation for demographic data, .91 alpha reliability coefficient for the ATR, and a .80
alpha reliability coefficient for the RES. Therefore, the ATR and RES were deemed reliable
for the study.


The purpose of this study is to assess rape attitudes and empathy levels of college
students in a selected university setting in North Texas.


A total sample of 300 subjects was needed to ensure representation within a confidence
interval of 95% and .05 sampling error. The sample was drawn from the following courses:
from the College of Business Administration, the course "Principles of Real Estate"
provided 107 subjects; from the College of Arts and Sciences, the course "U.S. History to
1865" provided 89 students; from the College of Education, "Family Life/Human Sexuality"
and "Health Emergency/First Aid" were selected, providing 110 subjects.


1. Students who either have known a rape survivor or have themselves been a survivor of
rape, will express more rape-intolerant attitudes toward rape and greater empathy levels
toward rape survivors than students who have not known a rape survivor or have been the
survivor of a rape.

2. Students with female siblings will report more rape-intolerant attitudes toward rape
and greater empathy toward rape survivors than students without female siblings.

3. Female students will have more rape-intolerant attitudes toward rape and greater
empathy levels toward rape survivors than those of their male counterparts.

4. Students over the age of twenty-six will demonstrate more rape-intolerant attitudes and
greater empathy levels toward rape survivors than the students under the age of


The dependent variables are attitudes toward rape and empathy toward rape survivors, while
the independent variables include: prior history as a rape survivor (knowing a rape
survivor or personally being raped), having female siblings, gender, age, and marital


1. While 2% of the population reported being the survivor of rape by a stranger, 6%
indicated they were the survivors of rape by someone known to them. Thirty percent (30%)
reported knowing a close friend or family member who had been raped, 74% reporting they
had been raped and had also known someone who was raped. In contrast, 55% had never been
sexually assaulted or known someone who was assaulted sexually. In regard to safety, 59%
reported taking precautions (i.e. self-defense courses, carry mace, or a gun) while 41%
did not.

2. ANOVA showed that prior experience as a rape survivor was significant for
rape-intolerant attitudes (F 2, 359 = 14.23, p [is less than] .05), supporting the first
hypothesis. Higher rape-intolerant attitudes than for those who had not been raped or had
known someone who was a survivor of rape.

3. The ANOVA revealed significance for attitudes and gender, with males reporting a
significantly lower mean score than females. Females had more rape-intolerant attitudes
than males. ANOVA have less empathy for rape survivors.


Prior victimization as a rape survivor or personally knowing a rape survivor affects rape
attitudes and empathy towards rape survivors. Having a female sibling does not affect rape
attitudes or empathy towards rape survivors. Gender affects rape attitudes and empathy
toward rape survivors. Age has no effect on rape attitudes or empathy towards rape


1. Programs would be more effective if they specifically targeted males and those without
prior experience with a rape survivor.

2. Suggestions for future programs could include using testimonials from rape survivors,
editorials, and panel discussions raising student "personal knowledge" of a rape survivor,
which in turn could raise empathy levels.

3. Future rape-prevention programs could address the male population as a target group for
awareness of attitudes, rape myths, and stereotypes.

4. Future research should continue to examine how ethnicity affects attitudes and empathy
toward rape. Prevention programs that target the individual perceptions and needs of
various ethnic and racial backgrounds could provide a more effective framework for rape

5. More assessment should be conducted to examine the possible effectiveness of empathy
and how it may affect rape awareness programs on college campuses.


A This study is limited to collection of data in the fall semester of 1998.
A The study is limited to self-reported data which may limit internal validity.
A The study is subject to possible response bias because subjects may feel they have
to respond in a manner that is socially acceptable, particularly on an emotionally
charged, "politically correct" topic such as sexual assault.

A The study analyzes attitudes and does not make an attempt to verify that these
self-reported attitudes are consistent with the behavior of subjects.

A The study utilized a sample based on convenience, which in turn may have affected
both internal and external validity.

A Health 2200 is a human sexuality course, which may have resulted in a selection bias
since it may have attracted subjects who are permissive in their attitudes toward sexual
issues such as rape.

A This study was conducted during a period when public awareness and scrutiny toward
sexual harassment may have been heightened by the publicity of President Clinton.

Szymanski, Lynda A., (July, 1993) Gender role and attitudes toward rape in male and
female college students. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research


Participants were 528 undergraduates at a small, selective liberal arts college in the
Northeast. There were 145 male and 374 female subjects; 9 subjects did not indicate their
sex. Subjects ranged in age from 17 to 50, with a mean of 20.1 years. All subjects read a
story about a man and woman going to see a movie on a date and returning to the man's
dormitory room after the movie. Half of the subjects read a scenario that depicted the
woman's date raping her once they returned to his dormitory room. The other subjects read
a story identical to the point when the couple returned to his dormitory room. In this
second scenario, the man was called out of the room and a stranger came into the room and
raped the woman. The stories were as similar as possible in regard to content and the
force involved in the rape.

After reading the rape scenario, all subjects were asked to use an 11-point Likert scale
to rate their feelings about the story through a series of 13 questions. These questions
were created by the authors to determine the subjects' attitudes and beliefs about what
had happened in the story. In addition to these questions, the male subjects were asked to
rate how likely they would be to behave like the man in the story (who raped the woman) if
they were assured that no one would ever find out, and the female subjects were asked how
likely they would be to behave in a manner similar to the woman in the story if they were
assured that no one would find out. The word rape and related terms were omitted in these

The present study was designed to further investigate the relationship between gender role
and perceptions of rape. This study will also investigate male subjects' expressed
likelihood to rape if assured anonymity.

This study examined the relationship between college students' gender roles and attitudes
toward rape. Subjects were 145 male and 374 female college students with a mean age of
20.1 years. The institution has a 12.5% minority population.

Participants classified as masculine according to the BSRI would believe in more rape
myths, hold more pro-rape attitudes, and believe in more traditional gender roles than
would those who were classified as feminine, androgynous, or undifferentiated.

The dependant variables are attitudes toward consensual sex and rape, while the dependant
variables are prior history as a rape survivor, gender and age.

1. The effects of gender role and the interaction of gender by gender role were not
significant, but there was a significant effect for gender.

2. In the present study, gender, not gender role, emerged as the significant indicator of
attitudes toward rape. As predicted, men had significantly more negative attitudes toward
women according to the AWS than did women.

3. Subjects were better able to identify with the man in the acquaintance rape story than
in the stranger rape story, but did not differ significantly in their ability to identify
with the woman in both stories.

This study demonstrated that gender continues to be an important factor in peoples'
attitudes toward rape. On the measures administered in the study men held more pro-rape
beliefs and less egalitarian views than did women. Additionally, the interaction of gender
and gender role on the AWS suggests that differences exist between the views of men and
women within these gender role categorizations. Feminine and androgynous men appear to be
more similar to women in their attitudes toward women than do masculine and
undifferentiated men. Both men and women of all gender classifications held stereotypical
views of stranger and acquaintance rapes. Acquaintance rapes are perceived as less severe,
less criminal, and more the fault of the victim than are stranger rapes.

No specific implications were stated by the author.
One problem with the present study is the questionnaire that assessed subjects' attitudes
about the rape scenario. The items from this questionnaire were based on a description of
the Rape Responsibility Questionnaire (Deitz et al., 1984). Unfortunately, the authors
were unable to obtain a copy of the questionnaire from the authors and therefore designed
one based on the limited information in the Deitz et al. (1984) study. The questionnaire
in the present study did not yield usable factors when factor analyzed.

Hannon, Roseann (Dec. 1995) Dating characteristics leading to unwanted vs. wanted
sexual behavior. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

Questionnaires were administered in classroom settings during regular class meetings.
Participants were treated in accordance with American Psychological Association guidelines
for research with human participants, and were given no special inducement to participate
in the study and no penalty for refusing to participate. After all participants had
completed the questionnaire, they were told that sexual assault is never justified, that
sexual assault can occur in a multitude of situations, and that help is available for
sexual assault survivors by calling a local crisis line for which the number was provided.

The purpose of the present study was to replicate and extend Muehlenhard and Linton's
(1987) study by collecting descriptive data about sexual behaviors during recent dates,
unwanted sex dates, and wanted sex dates. A second purpose was investigate ethnic
differences in a diverse sample of students from community colleges in California.
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