Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Health Psychology

First Advisor

Kristina Hood

Second Advisor

Faye Belgrave

Third Advisor

B. Ethan Coston


While there may be more discussions of sexual violence than there have been in previous years, cases continually arise where the responsibility of those who have been assaulted is called into question (Alaggia & Wang, 2020). Secondary victimization, or victim blaming, is partially responsible for the continued misattribution of responsibility to survivors. These perspectives minimize the experiences of survivors, which dissuades individuals from the reporting of perpetrators. The current study aimed to evaluate whether particular intersecting identities influenced perceptions of responsibility, in a hypothetical scenario depicting an assault. The race, gender identity, as well as perceptions of respectability of the hypothetical survivor were varied, and perceived responsibility was later assessed with a questionnaire. A multiple analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) assessed the individual effects of each manipulation as well as the overall combinations of the different manipulations, after controlling for rape myth acceptance and just world beliefs. While the proposed hypotheses were not supported, additional findings regarding the effect of demographic factors on attributions of responsibility were present. The influence of perceived respectability of the survivor, sexual socialization, and stage of adulthood provided unexpected insight on perceptions of perpetrator responsibility . Future directions of research, as well as suggestions for better investigation of sexual violence perceptions were discussed.


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