Victims StereotypesPart 1The purpose of this assignment is to make you aware of your beliefs about being a victim.What happens in society at large in any group when the topic of victims arises? Use the technique of free association and then analyze the thoughts behind those associations.To conduct your self-analysis, consider the following steps:Take a blank sheet of paper and write Victim on top of the paper.Start writing all the words that come to mind about the victim until you run out of words.Part 2In this part of the assignment, you have the opportunity to hear from a rape victim and to learn about some of the situations and attitudes she encountered after her attack. By completing this assignment, you also have an opportunity to apply concepts and theories of sexual violence you have learned in this course and to reflect on attitudes you have heard or encountered regarding this type of victim.To read the first-person account of a woman who has been sexually assaulted and of how this has impacted her life, refer to the Webliography.The description of the incident is very graphic in this article. If you have a history of trauma, be a little cautious. It may be best to read this article in the morning when you have all day to process it rather than at night before going to sleep.If necessary, you may want to talk to your therapist, a friend, or get support from the instructor. Post your reflections concerning this article in a minimum of 300 words, including the following:Review the weekly reading on Sexual Victimization and review the research of Groth, Burgess, and Holstrom (1977) and Groth and Birnbaum (1979). What Theory of Sexual Violence do you believe best addresses the rape perpetrated by the perpetrator? Identify the typology (i.e., Anger Rape, Power Rape, and/or Sadism Rape) and the sub-category.From the examples listed by the author, what resonated with your own ignorance of rape?Provide examples of ignorance about rape from other sources (such as conversations you have had or the portrayal of victims in the media).Provide resources for rape victims in your area of residence.JUDGMENTS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT:
Regina A. Schuller,* Blake M. McKimmie,**
Barbara M. Masser,** and Marc A. Klippenstine***
The sexual assault victim “who comes to the attention of the authorities has
her victimization measured against the current rape mythologies” (R v.
Seaboyer, 1991). This is particularly troubling given that lay beliefs regarding the crime of sexual assault are at odds with the data documenting the
circumstances surrounding actual rape. Research has consistently demonstrated that lay people (hence, jurors) will question the validity of a sexual
assault claim and judge the victim more harshly, if the circumstances surrounding the assault and/or the characteristics and actions of the sexual assault complainant do not comport with people’s expectations about the event.
In this paper we report the results of a juror simulation that examines the
impact of victim’s postassault emotional demeanor on judgments, in the
context of independent manipulations of gender stereotypicality and victim
stereotypicality. Results revealed that the complainant’s emotional display
had a powerful impact on participants’ judgments, with the claim viewed as
more valid when the complainant was portrayed as tearful/upset as opposed
to calm/controlled, but only when the complainant was portrayed as gender
* York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
** The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
***East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma, USA.
New Criminal Law Review, Vol. 13, Number 4, pps 759–780. ISSN 1933-4192, electronic
ISSN 1933-4206. © 2010 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content
through the University of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, http://www. DOI: 10.1525/nclr.2010.13.4.759.
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In Canada,1 as in Australia,2 the United States3 and a number of other
countries (e.g., New Zealand,4 Scotland,5 and England and Wales6), the
attrition of sexual assault cases, at all stages of the criminal justice system,
is alarmingly high. One of the key factors identified as underlying these
troubling attrition statistics involves decision makers’ conceptions (or
perhaps more aptly, their misconceptions) about sexual assault and sexual
assault complainants more generally.7 For instance, at the trial level, where
corroborating evidence is minimal or absent, and the existing evidence
typically circumstantial and ambiguous (i.e., the divergent accounts of “he
said/she said”), it is perhaps not surprising that these beliefs can take on
a significant role in jurors’ decisions.8 As noted in R v. Seaboyer (1991),9
the sexual assault victim “who comes to the attention of the authorities
has her victimization measured against the current rape mythologies.”10
1. Janice Du Mont, Karen-Lee Miller & Terri L. Myhr, The Role of “Real Rape” and
“Real Victim” Stereotypes in the Police Reporting Practices of Sexually Assaulted Women,
9 Violence Against Women 466–86 (2003).
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Personal Safety Survey Australia (2005).
3. Patricia A. Frazier & Beth Haney, Sexual Assault Cases in the Legal System: Police,
Prosecutor, and Victim Perspectives, 20 Law & Hum. Behav. 607–28 (1996).
4. Sue Triggs, Elaine Mossman, Jan Jordan & Venezia Kingi, Responding to Sexual
Violence: Attrition in the New Zealand Criminal Justice System, commissioned by The
Ministry of Woman’s Affairs (2009).
5. Linda Regan & Liz Kelly, Rape: Still a Forgotten Issue (2003).
6. Jennifer Temkin & Barbara Krahé, Sexual Assault and the Justice Gap: A Question of
Attitude (2008); Jeanne Gregory & Sue Lees, Attrition in Rape and Sexual Assault Cases,
36 Brit. J. Criminology 1–17 (1996).
7. Temkin & Krahé, supra note 6.
8. The more ambiguous the available evidence, the greater the influence of general beliefs
and sentiments: Dennis J. Devine, Jennifer Buddenbaum, Stephanie Houp, Nathan
Studebaker & Dennis P. Stolle, Strength of the Evidence, Extraevidentiary Influence, and
the Liberation Hypothesis: Data from the field, 33 Law & Hum. Behav. 136–48 (2009);
Natalie Taylor, Jacqueline Joudo & Australian Institute of Criminology, The Impact of PreRecorded Video and Closed Circuit Television Testimony by Adult Sexual Assault
Complainants on Jury Decision-Making: An Experimental Study (2005). Temkin & Krahé,
supra note 6.
9. R v. Seaboyer, 7 C.R. (4th) 117 (1991).
10. “The woman who comes to the attention of the authorities has her victimization
measured against the current rape mythologies, i.e. who she should be in order to be recognized as having been, in the eyes of the law, raped; who her attacker must be in order to be
recognized, in the eyes of the law, as a potential rapist; and how injured she must be in order
to be believed. If her victimization does not fit the myths, it is unlikely that an arrest will
be made or a conviction obtained,” R v. Seaboyer, at 171.
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This is particularly troubling given that lay beliefs regarding the crime of
sexual assault are squarely at odds with the body of data documenting the
circumstances surrounding actual rape.11
In the current article we consider the role of these (mis)beliefs—
that is, cognitive schemas that guide and organize the decision makers’
interpretation of evidence—and focus on the role of some of these beliefs
in decision makers’ perceptions and evaluations of sexual assault. To gain a
better understanding of the way in which rape-related schemas are utilized,
and under what conditions, we present the results of a juror simulation
study that examines the impact of three variables that potentially impact
on perceptions of victims, and consider their impact on decision makers’
evaluations of sexual assault. In clarifying and exposing the elements that
may underlie the impact of these beliefs and stereotypes on decision makers,
we hope to identify avenues for future research and procedural mechanisms
that may reduce the influence of these rape-related stereotypes at trial.
R ape M yths and V ictim S tereotypes
In accounting for individuals’ reactions to rape victims and perpetrators, one
of the most consistent predictors of heightened victim blame12 and decreased
perpetrator blame13 has been rape myth endorsement. Rape myths have been
characterized as a series of oversimplified and rigid cognitive schemas that center on the perpetrator, the rape act, and the victim.14 In content, rape myths
11. Temkin & Krahé, supra note 6.
12. Susan L. Brinson, The Use and Opposition of Rape Myths in Prime-Time Television
Dramas, 27 Sex Roles 359–75 (1992); Emily Finch & Vanessa E. Munro, Juror Stereotypes
and Blame Attribution in Rape Cases Involving Intoxicants: The Findings of a Pilot Study,
45 Brit. J. Criminology 25–38 (2005); Bettina Frese, Miguel Moya & Jesús L. Megias, Social
Perception of Rape: How Rape Myth Acceptance Modulates the Influence of Situational
Factors, 19 J. Interpersonal Violence 143–61 (2004).
13. Gerd Bohner, Friederike Eyssel, Afroditi Pina, Frank Siebler & G. Tendayi Viki, Rape
Myth Acceptance: Affective, Behavioural, and Cognitive Effects of Beliefs that Blame the
Victim and Exonerate the Perpetrator, in Miranda Horvath & Jennifer Brown eds., Rape:
Challenging Contemporary Thinking (2009); Frese et al., supra note 12; Barbara Krahé,
Social Psychological Issues in the Study of Rape, in Wolfgang Stroebe & Miles Hewstone
eds., 2 Eur. Rev. Soc. Psychol. 279–309.
14. Gerd Bohner, Rape Myths: Social Psychological Studies on Attitudes that Exonerate
the Assailant and Blame the Victim of Sexual Violence (1998); Amy M. Buddie & Arthur
G. Miller, Beyond Rape Myths: A More Complex View of Perceptions of Rape Victims, 45
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essentially “serve to deny and justify male sexual aggression against women,”15
and can serve to absolve the perpetrator and highlight the gender specificity of
rape.16 Most notably, however, and most relevant for the current study, these
belief structures provide a framework around which the complex information
surrounding a sexual assault can be interpreted and organized.17
Rape myths can be both descriptive and prescriptive.18 They provide the
decision maker with a simplified evaluative, cognitive representation, or
stereotype, of a genuine victim of rape—even though this representation
does not necessarily reflect reality.19 Using the concept of “scripts,”20 rape
Sex Roles 139–60 (2001); Katherine E. Edward & Malcolm D. MacLeod, The Myth and
Reality of Sexual Violence: Implications for the Criminal Justice System, 7 Expert Evidence
37–58 (1999).
15. Kimberly A. Lonsway & Lousie F. Fitzgerald, Rape Myths: In Review, 18 Psychol.
Women Q. 133–64, 134 (1994).
16. Martha R. Burt, Cultural Myths and Supports for Rape, 38 J. Personality & Soc.
Psychol. 217–30 (1980); Patrick Chiroro, Gerd Bohner, G. Tendayi Viki & Christopher I.
Jarvis, Rape Myth Acceptance and Rape Proclivity: Expected Dominance Versus Expected
Arousal as Mediators in Acquaintance-Rape Situations, 19 J. Interpersonal Violence 427–42
(2004); Mary P. Koss, Lisa A. Goodman, Angela Browne, Louise F. Fitzgerald, Gwendolyn
P. Keita & Nancy F. Russo, No Safe Haven: Male Violence Against Women at Home, at
Work, and in the Community (1994).
17. Galen V. Bodenhausen, Stereotypic Biases in Social Decision Making and Memory:
Testing Process Models of Stereotype Use, 55 J. Personality & Soc. Psychol. 726–37 (1988);
Bohner, Eyssel, Pina, Siebler & Viki, supra note 13. Rape myths have been conceptualized
as serving a number of functions. For instance, rape myths have been conceptualized as
constituting a specific case of a belief in a just world (Melvin J. Lerner, The Belief in a Just
World: A Fundamental Delusion (1980)), and can serve to buffer women from the negative
psychological consequences of the threat of rape (Gerd Bohner, Frank Siebler & Yvonne
Raaijmakers, Salience of Rape Affects Self-Esteem: Individual Versus Collective Self-Aspects,
2 Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 191–99 (1999)).
18. Bohner, supra note 14. Barbara Krahé, Jennifer Temkin & Steffen Bieneck, SchemaDriven Information Processing in Judgments About Rape, 21 Applied Cognitive Psychol.
601–19 (2007).
19. Lonsway & Fitzgerald, supra note 15; see also Temkin & Krahé, supra note 6.
20. Krahé et al., supra note 18. Research demonstrates that both victims and outside
observers may rely on rape scripts, or schemas, about what typically occurs during a rape
when rendering decisions about whether the events constitute sexual assault: Zoë D.
Peterson & Charlene L. Muehlenhard, Was It Rape?: The Function of Women’s Rape Myth
Acceptance and Definitions of Sex Labeling Their Own Experiences, 51 Sex Roles 129–44
(2004). Like rape myths, these scripts are believed to represent a stereotypical representation
of a sexual assault incident: Arnold S. Kahn & Virginia A. Mathie, Understanding the
Unacknowledged Rape Victim, in Cheryl B. Travis & Jacquelyn W. White eds., Sexuality,
Society, and Feminism (377–403); Arnold S. Kahn, Virginia A. Mathie & Cyndee Torgler,
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myths have been conceptualized as including elements that are both
descriptive, specifying the behaviors and actions that typically occur in the
situation, as well as prescriptive or normative, specifying the behaviors and
actions one expects to occur in the situation.21 Research has consistently
shown that, although the majority of sexual assaults are committed by
someone known to the victim, complainants are far less likely to be believed
if they have been assaulted by an acquaintance because the typical sexual
assault is perceived to be committed by a stranger to the victim. This is
especially so if evidence of violence and physical injury is lacking.22 In
contrast to this narrow conception of “real” or “genuine rape,” researchers
have consistently demonstrated that lay people (hence, jurors) will question
the validity of a sexual assault, judge the victim with greater skepticism,23
and blame her more24 if the context of the assault and/or the characteristics
and actions of the victim do not fit with their expectations.25
Within the rape literature centering on female victims of sexual assault,
these expectations have typically been conceptualized in terms of victims’
violations of gender stereotypes.26 As such, research has consistently demRape Scripts and Rape Acknowledgment, 18 Psychol. Women Q. 53–66 (1994). For example,
when asked to describe a sexual assault, Ryan found that participants described an attack
that occurred outdoors, involved a highly aggressive male stranger as the perpetrator, with
the victim being described as extremely fearful: Kathryn M. Ryan, Rape and Seduction
Scripts, 12 Psychol. Women Q. 237–45 (1988).
21. Krahé et al., supra note 18, at 687.
22. Margaret J. McGregor, Ellen Wiebe, Stephen A. Marion & Cathy Livingstone, Why
Don’t More Women Report Sexual Assault to the Police? (Research Letter), 162 Canadian
Med. Ass’n J. 660 (2000). See also Du Mont et al., supra note 1.
23. Julie Horney & Cassia Spohn, The Influence of Blame and Believability Factors on
the Processing of Simple Versus Aggravated Rape Cases, 34 Criminology 135–62 (1996);
Cassia Spohn & Jeffrey Spears, The Effect of Offender and Victim Characteristics on Sexual
Assault Case Processing Decisions, 13 Just. Q. 401–31 (1996).
24. Jane P. Sheldon & Sandra L. Parent, Clergy’s Attitudes and Attributions of Blame
Toward Female Rape Victims, 8 Violence Against Women 233–56 (2002).
25. According to Larcombe, a rape victim “is not only morally and sexually virtuous she
is also cautious, unprovocative, and consistent” and that during a trial the defense “tactics
for discrediting rape testimony involve exposing the complainant’s alleged failure to comply
with the sexual and behavioural standards of the normative victim”: Wendy Larcombe, The
“Ideal” Victim v. Successful Rape Complaints: Not What You Might Expect, 10 Feminist
Legal Stud. 131–48, 131 (2002).
26. Barbara M. Masser, Kate Lee & Blake M. McKimmie, Bad Woman, Bad Victim?:
Disentangling the Effects of Victim Stereotypes, Gender Stereotypes, and Benevolent
Sexism on Acquaintance Rape Victim Blame, 62 Sex Roles 494–504 (2010).
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onstrated that women are more likely to be evaluated as genuine victims of
rape if they are chaste and respectable,27 are unknown to their assailant,28
are sober,29 have fought back (with injuries to prove it),30 and report the
incident immediately to the police.31 Consistent with this, researchers have
demonstrated that people tend to evaluate female victims of sexual assault as more blameworthy if their behavior violates traditional gender
role norms of appropriate female behavior.32 Abrams and colleagues33 have
documented a positive relationship between belief in traditional gender
27. Du Mont et al., supra note 1.
28. Lynda A. Szymanski, Ann S. Devlin, Joan C. Chrisler & Stuart A. Vyse, Gender Role
and Attitudes Toward Rape in Male and Female College Students, 29 Sex Roles 37–57 (1993).
29. Liz Kelly, A Research Review on the Reporting, Investigation and Prosecution of
Rape Cases, Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (2002); Jan Jordan,
Beyond Belief? Police, Rape and Women’s Credibility, 4 Crim. Just. 29–59 (2004); Georgina
S. Hammock & Deborah R. Richardson, Perceptions of Rape: The Influence of Closeness
of Relationship, Intoxication and Sex of Participant, 12 Violence & Victims 237–46 (1997);
Suresh Kanekar & Maharukh B. Kolsawalla, Responsibility of a Rape Victim in Relation to
Her Respectability, Attractiveness, and Provocativeness, 112 J. Soc. Psychol. 153–54 (1980);
Regina A. Schuller & Anne-Marie Wall, The Effects of Defendant and Complainant
Intoxication on Mock Jurors’ Judgements of Sexual Assault, 22 Psychol. Women Q. 555–73
(1998); Karla J. Stormo, Alan R. Lang & Werner G. K. Stritzke, Attributions about
Acquaintance Rape: The Role of Alcohol and Individual Differences, 27 J. Applied Soc.
Psychol. 279–05 (1997); Jane E. Workman & Elizabeth W. Freeburg, An Examination of
Date Rape, Victim Dress, and Perceiver Variables Within the Context of Attribution Theory,
41 Sex Roles 261–77 (1999); Anne-Marie Wall & Regina A. Schuller, Sexual Assault and
Defendant/Victim Intoxication: Jurors’ Perceptions of Guilt, 30 J. Applied Soc. Psychol.
253–74 (2000).
30. Bree Cook, Fiona David & Anna Grant, Sexual Violence in Australia, Australian
Institute of Criminology (2001) Susan L. Ehrlich, Representing Rape: Language and Sexual
Consent (2001). S. Lees, Carnal Knowledge: Rape on Trial (1996).
31. Spohn & Spears, supra note 23. Mary W. Stewart, Shirley A. Dobbin & Sophia I.
Gatowski, “Real Rapes” and “Real Victims”: The Shared Reliance on Common Cultural
Definitions of Rape, 4 Feminist Legal Stud. 159–77 (1996).
32. Antonia Abbey, Pam McAuslan, Tina Zawacki, A. Monique Clinton & Philip O.
Buck, Attitudinal, Experiential, and Situational Predictors of Sexual Assault Perpetration,
16 J. Interpersonal Violence 784–807 (2001); Schuller & Wall, supra note 29. Wall &
Schuller, supra note 29; Regina A. Schuller & Patricia A. Hastings, Complainant Sexual
History Evidence: Its Impact on Mock Jurors Decisions, 26 Psychol. Women Q. 252–61
(2002); Workman & Freeburg, supra note 29.
33. Dominic Abrams, G. Tendayi Viki, Barbara Masser & Gerd Bohner, Perceptions of
Stranger and Acquaintance Rape: The Role of Benevolent and Hostile Sexism in Victim
Blame and Rape Proclivity, 84 J. Personality & Soc. Psychol. 111–25 (2003).
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roles (as assessed through benevolent sexism34) and the level of blame apportioned to victims of acquaintance rape.
One of the complexities of the extant victim blame literature is the possibility that researchers have inadvertently confounded two different (and
distinguishable) stereotypes.35 In presenting participants with scenarios
centering on, for example, the perceived sexual and moral purity of the
victim rather than on gender stereotypicality per se, research has potentially confounded gender stereotypicality and victim stereotypicality—or
judgments of genuineness—of the victim. In short, whilst an alleged rape
victim who is known to have invited her assailant into her apartment may
be judged as behaving in a counter-stereotypical way for a “genuine” victim
of sexual assault, she is also likely to be viewed as counter-stereotypical in
terms of gender for behaving in a way that does not uphold traditional
Even though many dimensions of rape victim and gender stereotypes
overlap, they may have distinct effects on evaluations of victims of sexual
assault. In an exploration of the impact of independent manipulations of
both stereotypes, Masser and colleagues37 sought to build on Abrams and
colleagues38 and explore the relationship between traditional gender role
endorsement (assessed through benevolent sexism) and acquaintance rape
victim blame. Pilot research established the independence of two key aspects of the victim’s behavior to decision makers’ perceptions of her victim
stereotypicality, specifically, physically resisting her assailant and cooperation with the police in their enquiries. Similarly, the victim’s alleged neglect
of her children (by leaving them home alone while she partied) impacted
on her perceived gender stereotypicality independent of her victim stereotypicality. In the context of the main study, Masser and her colleagues
found that the previously noted association between gender stereotypicality
and traditional gender role endorsement was evident only in the context of
victims who were counter-stereotypical. In short, and contrary to Abrams
and colleagues, traditional gender role endorsement was only positively
34. Peter Glick & Susan T. Fiske, The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating
Hostile and Benevolent Sexism, 70 J. Personality & Soc. Psychol. 491–512 (1996).
35. Masser et al., supra note 26.
36. Abrams et al., supra note 33.
37. Masser et al., supra note 26.
38. Abrams et al., supra note 33.
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associated with acquaintance rape victim blame when the victim was doubly deviant in terms of both victim and gender stereotypes.
Although both victim- and gender-related stereotypes have been shown
to have an impact on evaluations of victims of sexual assault, an emerging
body of evidence suggests that the emotionality displayed by the victim
is also important.39 It is not clear from the literature whether the effect of
emotionality is related to the action of one of these stereotypes, or whether
it is an additional contributor to perceptions about the genuineness of
victims of sexual assault. Vignette research by Calhoun and his colleagues40
demonstrated that an emotionally controlled, as compared to emotionally expressive, victim was perceived to be less credible, less likeable, and
experiencing less aversion for the rape. Similarly, Winkel and Koppelaar41
presented research participants with a short video in which a woman was
interviewed by a police officer regarding her claim of rape. Results revealed
39. Anna C. Baldry, Rape Victims’ Risk of Secondary Victimization by Police Officers,
25 Issues in Criminological & Legal Psychol. 65–68 (1996); Guri C. Bollingmo, Ellen O.
Wessel, Dag E. Eilertsen & Svejn Magnussen, Credibility of the Emotional Witness: A
Study of Ratings by Police Investigators, 14 Psychol., Crime & Law 29–40 (2008); Guri
Bollingmo, Ellen Wessel, Yvonne Sandvold, Dag E. Eilertsen & Svein Magnussen, The
Effect of Biased and Non-Biased Information on Judgments of Witness Credibility, 15
Psychol., Crime & Law 61–71 (2009); Buddie & Miller, supra note 14; Lawrence G.
Calhoun, Arnie Cann, James W. Selby & David L. Magee, Victim Emotional Response:
Effects on Social Reaction to Victims of Rape, 20 Brit. J. Soc. Psychol. 17–21 (1981); Louise
Ellison & Vanessa E. Munro, Of “Normal Sex” and “Real Rape”: Exploring the Use of
Socio-Sexual Scripts in (Mock) Jury Deliberation, 18 Soc. & Legal Stud. 291–312 (2009a);
Louise Ellison & Vanessa E. Munro, Reacting to Rape: Exploring Mock Jurors’ Assessments
of Complainant Credibility, 49 Brit. J. Criminology 202–19 (2009b); Jonathan M. Golding,
Heather M. Fryman, Dorothy F. Marsil & John A. Yozwiak, Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Effect
of Child Witness Demeanor on Juror Decisions in a Child Sexual Abuse Trial, 27 Child
Abuse & Neglect 1311–21 (2003); Marc A. Klippenstine & Regina A. Schuller, Perceptions
of Sexual Assault: Expectations Regarding the Emotional Response of a Rape Victim,
Psychol. Crime & Law (forthcoming); Judith E. Krulewitz, Reactions to Rape Victims:
Effects of Rape Circumstances, Victims’ Emotional Response, and Sex of Helper, 29 J.
Consulting Psychol. 645–54 (1982); Aldert Vrij & Agneta Fisher, The Role of Displays of
Emotions and Ethnicity in Judgments of Rape Victims, 4 Int’l Rev. Victimology 255–65
(1997); Ellen Wessel, Guri C.B. Drevland, Dag E. Eilertsen & Svein Magnussen, Credibility
of the Emotional Witness: A Study of Ratings by Court Judges, 30 Law & Hum. Behav.
221–30 (2006).
40. Calhoun et al., supra note 39.
41. Frans W. Winkel & Leendert Koppelaar, Rape Victim’s Style of Self-Presentation and
Secondary Victimization by the Environment: An Experiment, 6 J. Interpersonal Violence
29–40 (1991).
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that when the victim’s style of self-presentation was numbed (e.g., emotionally restrained and controlled manner), as compared to emotional
(e.g., sobbing and in a trembling voice), participants were less likely to
view her as exhibiting caution, and rated her as more responsible and as
less credible.
In a series of studies, researchers have demonstrated that both judges
and police investigators are similarly impacted by the emotions expressed
by a sexual assault victim. Using two testimony formats, written and video,
and varying the ambiguity of a sexual assault complainant’s testimony,
Kaufman and colleagues42 varied the victim’s emotional display to be either
congruent (e.g., despair with occasional sobs), neutral (e.g., flat, matter-offact manner), or incongruent (e.g., displaying positive and pleasant emotions) with what they determined were the expectations of participants.
Results demonstrated that when a victim displayed a congruent emotional
response, she was rated as more credible, and the perpetrator was rated as
more guilty, than when her emotions were incongruent, with the neutral
condition falling between these two. Similarly, Bollingomo and colleagues43
found that after viewing one of the three versions of the rape victim’s statement from the Kaufman study, police investigators’ judgments of credibility were similarly influenced by variations in the woman’s emotional
response. Again, results demonstrated that the victim was rated as more
credible when she was portrayed as crying and showing despair, and as less
credible when she displayed neutral or incongruent emotions.
Expanding on this research, Klippenstine and Schuller44 examined the
influence of two expectations regarding the victim’s emotional response, the
first that the victim should be emotionally distraught and the second that
she should respond consistently over time. As with the previous research,
the first study revealed that, generally, more support was found for the victim’s claim when she was tearful/upset as compared to calm/controlled, with
participants’ perceptions negatively influenced by the emotional information that was incongruent with what would be expected of a sexual assault
victim. Their second study revealed that emotions displayed at different
42. Geir Kaufmann, Guri C.B. Drevland, Ellen Wessel, Geir Overskeid & Svein
Magnussen, The Importance of Being Earnest: Displayed Emotions and Witness Credibility,
17 Applied Cognitive Psychol. 21–34 (2003).
43. Bollingmo et al. (2008), supra note 39.
44. Klippenstine & Schuller, supra note 39.
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points in time over the course of a sexual assault incident (i.e., immediately
following the event, during trial testimony) interacted to influence perceptions of the complainant, the perpetrator, and the event. In this latter study
it was the victim who responded consistently across both points in time,
regardless of the nature of that response, which resulted in an increased
belief in the woman’s claim.
Taken in their entirety, these studies suggest that variations in a victim’s
emotional display do appear to impact people’s perceptions of the victim
and her claim. “An emotional response to rape is perceived as normal and
appropriate,”45 and a victim, or alleged victim, who responds in a manner
not expected of a sexual assault victim (e.g., numbed, controlled, nonemotional) will be believed less. Although measures of gender typicality were
not collected in these studies, the body of gender stereotyping research
documenting gender role expectations and prescriptions regarding emotional expressiveness would suggest that emotionality is certainly congruent
with the feminine stereotype,46 and hence a sexual assault victim who does
not respond in an emotional fashion would not only be viewed as at odds
with the victim stereotype but also as gender incongruent.
It is troubling to note that this impact of emotionality occurs despite
the fact that the actual postvictimization trauma and demeanor of a victim
can be quite variable47 and is not a behavioral cue to deception. Indeed,
research has demonstrated two basic responses to crime in general48 and
45. Buddie & Miller, supra note 14, at 143; see also Taylor & Joudo, supra note 8.
46. Inge K. Broverman, Susan R. Vogel, Donald M. Broverman, Frank E. Clarkson &
Paul S. Rosenkrantz, Sex-Role Stereotypes: A Current Appraisal, 28 J. Soc. Issues 59–78
(1972); Thomas L. Ruble, Sex Stereotypes: Issues of change in the 70s, 9 Sex Roles 397–402
(1983). Janet K. Swim, Perceived Versus Meta-Analytic Effect Sizes: An Assessment of the
Accuracy of Gender Stereotypes, 66 J. Personality & Soc. Psychol. 21–36 (1994).
47. Ellen Frank & Barbara P. Anderson, Psychiatric Disorders in Rape Victims: Past
History and Current Symptomatology, 28 Comprehensive Psychiatry 77–82 (1987); Patricia
A. Frazier, Victim Attributions and Postrape Trauma, 59 J. Personality & Soc. Psychol.
298–304 (1990); Patricia A. Frazier, Self-Blame as a Mediator of Postrape Depressive
Symptoms, 10 J. Soc. & Clinical Psychol. 47–57 (1991); Patricia A. Frazier & Eugene
Borgida, Rape Trauma Syndrome: A Review of Case Law and Psychological Research, 16
Law & Hum. Behav. 293–311 (1992); C. Buf Meyer & Shelley E. Taylor, Adjustment to
Rape, 50 J. Personality & Soc. Psychol. 1226–34 (1986).
48. Irene H. Frieze, Sharon Hymer & Martin S. Greenberg, Describing the Crime
Victim: Psychological Reactions to Victimization, 18 Prof. Psychol. 299–315 (1987); Ronnie
Janoff-Bulman & Irene H. Frieze, A Theoretical Perspective for Understanding Reactions
to Victimization, 39 J. Soc. Issues 1–17 (1983), Robert F. Kidd & Ellen F. Chayet, Why Do
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sexual assault specifically:49 the emotional (e.g., victim displays distress
clearly visible to others) and the numbed (e.g., emotions are in check and
under control) styles of responding, with many victims of rape using the
latter as a coping strategy.50 In an analysis of thirty-two semistructured
interviews with sexual assault survivors, Konradi51 found that victims engaged in a number of such strategies for managing the expression of their
emotions when testifying in court.52 Large individual differences in people’s
emotional reactions to social situations have also been documented,53 as
well as variations in people’s ability to regulate their emotional behavior
according to situational demands.54
Victims Fail to Report: The Psychology of Criminal Victimization, 40 Victimology 39–51
(1984); Camille B. Wortman, Coping with Victimization: Conclusions and Implications for
Future Research, 39 J. Soc. Issues 195–221 (1983).
49. Winkel & Koppelaar, supra note 41. Ann W. Burgess & Lynda L. Holmstrom, Rape
Trauma Syndrome, 131 Am. J. Psychiatry 981–85 (1974a); Ann W. Burgess & Lynda L.
Holmstrom, Rape: Victims of Crisis (1974b); Ann W. Burgess & Lynda L. Holmstrom,
Coping Behavior of the Rape Victim, 133 Am. J. Psychiatry 413–18 (1976).
50. Jenny Petrak & Barbara Hedge, The Trauma of Sexual Assault: Treatment, Prevention
and Practice (2001).
51. Amanda Konradi, Too Little, Too Late: Prosecutors’ Pre-Court Preparation of Rape
Survivors, 22 Law & Soc. Inquiry 1–54 (1997); Amanda Konradi, I Don’t Have to be Afraid
of You: Rape Survivors’ Emotion Management in Court, 22 Symbolic Interaction 45–77
(1999); Amanda Konradi, Pulling Strings Doesn’t Work in Court: Moving Beyond Puppetry
in the Relationship Between Prosecutors and Rape Survivors, 10 J. Soc. Distress & the
Homeless 5–28 (2001).
52. Although “victims perceived the courtroom to be a rational domain that called for a
neutral, controlled, and polite demeanor” (Konradi (1999), supra note 51, at 55), survivors
also believed that the demeanor of a real victim was consistent with someone who was damaged. That is, victims were aware, and informed by legal personnel, that certain demeanors
and emotional reactions were consistent with women who make false allegations of sexual
assault (e.g., angry, deceptive, hard, inexpressive, and unmoved), whereas others were more
consistent with the responses of a “real” sexual assault victim (e.g., displayed fear, embarrassment, and was subject to an emotional breakdown). At the same time, however, survivors wanted to suppress their emotions to regain the control that was originally lost to the
53. Robert S. Feldman, Jason C. Tomasian & Erik J. Coats, Nonverbal Deception
Abilities and Adolescents’ Social Competence: Adolescents with Higher Social Skills are
Better Liars, 23 J. Nonverbal Behav. 237–50 (1999).
54. Aldert Vrij, Credibility Judgements of Detectives: The Impact of Nonverbal Behavior,
Social Skills, and Physical Characteristics on Impression Formation, 133 J. Soc. Psychol.
601–10 (1993).
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Given the documented influence of stereotypes in the courtroom, it
is of interest to explore if, and how, perceptions of emotionality interact
with victim and gender stereotypes to influence judgments of sexual assault
victims. Arguably, emotionality is an element of both the gender and victim stereotypes55—that is, both “good” women and “good” victims should
be emotionally expressive. However, it is unclear whether emotionality is
considered characteristic of a “good” or stereotypical victim through its association with gender stereotypes and the overlap of the victim and gender
stereotype in the context of sexual assault. To clarify the relationship of
emotionality to stereotypes and the resultant impact on judgments of a
sexual assault victim, we considered the impact of victim emotionality in
the context of independent manipulations of gender stereotypicality and
victim stereotypicality. In doing so we sought to consider whether emotionality moderated the effect of either victim or gender stereotypicality on
evaluations of victims of sexual assault.
The aim of the current research was to manipulate victim and gender stereotypicality, along with complainant emotionality, in a scenario depicting
an acquaintance rape. All of these variables were expected to influence
perceptions of the complaint’s typicality, with two of these variables (gender stereotypicality, victim stereotypicality) expected to influence typicality
independently, and the third (victim emotionality) potentially impacting
the influence of both gender and victim typicality.
Two hundred and ten participants (141 women, 67 men; 2 failed to indicate their gender) recruited from a large Canadian university completed
the study for partial course credit and the chance to win $100. The age
of participants ranged from 18 to 50 years (M = 23.24, SD = 6.23). The
sample represented a broad range of ethnic/racial backgrounds: 30 percent Caucasian, 19 percent South Asian, 14.5 percent Black, 13 percent
Asian, 8 percent West Asian, 4.8 percent South American/Mexican,
55. As discussed in the preceding section and accompanying footnotes.
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4.3 percent Bi-/Multi-racial, and 5.3 percent indicating another racial/
ethnic background.
Sexual Assault Scenarios and Procedure
Participants were presented with a brief vignette that depicted a sexual
encounter between a man (Jason) and a woman (Natalie) that ended in
an allegation of sexual assault. Natalie, a woman in her early thirties, was
described as a single mother of two young children (ages 1 and 4) who
had plans to go out for the evening with a couple of her close friends.
All participants were informed that, at the dance club, Natalie bumped
into Jason, who she had seen around at her work place. When she and her
girlfriends were leaving the club, Jason invited Natalie to accompany him to
a nearby cafe for dessert. Natalie accepted Jason’s offer, and the two headed
out. On their way they decide to get their dessert to go and headed to Jason’s
nearby apartment. According to her account of the events, they were having
a good time at Jason’s, but when consensual kissing and petting was taken
too far and she insisted on slowing things down, Jason did not stop and
persisted until intercourse occurred. Natalie then reported the incident to
the police, and when Jason was questioned about the events, he provided a
different account, that the sex was consensual.
Within these basic facts of the scenario, the three variables of interest
were varied. Following Masser and colleague’s research,56 the manipulation
of gender stereotypicality occurred at the beginning of the vignette, at which
point participants were either informed that Natalie left her children in
the care of a trusted babysitter (stereotypical) or left her children asleep
in their beds unattended (counter stereotypical). The manipulation of victim stereotypicality was presented in the description of the alleged assault,
with participants in the counter stereotypical condition told that, although
Natalie repeatedly told Jason to stop, she did not try to physically resist
Jason; and those in the stereotypical condition told that, in addition to telling Jason to stop, she repeatedly tried to push Jason away and tried to cross
her legs so that her clothes could not be removed. Finally, the manipulation
of victim emotionality was presented via Natalie’s account to a friend the
day following the alleged assault. Specifically, in retelling the events of the
evening to her friend, Natalie explained that, although she had definitely
56. Masser et al., supra note 26.
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been attracted to Jason and had a wonderful time talking with him and
even “making out,” she never wanted to take it as far as sexual intercourse.
In her retelling of the events, Natalie either was visually distraught, sobbing
at times (distress/emotional), or was emotionally calm and did not appear to
be overly uncomfortable (calm/collected). These variations in the scenario
were fully crossed, producing eight different versions of the case.
After reading the scenario, participants completed a range of dependent measures. Unless otherwise indicated, responses were obtained using
7-point rating scales anchored with the endpoints defined either by the
wording of the item (e.g., very believable, not at all believable) or by the
participants’ degree of endorsement of the item (e.g., strongly disagree,
strongly agree). These measures included a measure of the validity of the
sexual assault claim comprised of participants rating across 4 items (α =
.74): (1) extent to which the participants believed the events described constituted sexual assault, (2) their likelihood of supporting a guilty verdict if
the case went to trial, (3) the extent to which the victim’s account of what
occurred was believable, and (4) the extent to which the assailant’s account of what occurred was believable (reverse coded). Victim and assailant
blameworthiness was assessed via participants’ ratings of the appropriateness
of the target’s behavior on the evening in question and the extent to which
the target was to blame for what occurred, with these two items summed and
averaged to provide composite measures of target blameworthiness (α = .57
and α = .70, for victim and assailant, respectively).
To assess whether the variations in the case had their expected impact
on participants’ judgments of complainant typically, participants rated the
complainant across six items. Half of these items tapped perceived gender
stereotypicality of the alleged victim (“How much is [the woman] like the
typical woman?”; “How much is [the woman] similar to women in general?”; and “How typical is [the woman] of her gender?”). The other three
items tapped perceived victim typicality, with parallel items measuring the
alleged victim’s typicality, similarity, and likeness to sexual assault victims in
general. The respective items for each of these measures were then summed
and averaged to provide composite measures of gender stereotypicality (α =
.88) and victim stereotypicality (α = .89). Higher scores on these measures
indicated that the victim was perceived as increasingly gender or victim
(respectively) stereotypical.
The final section of the questionnaire included manipulation checks
that asked the participants to recall specifics of the events depicted in the
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scenario (e.g., where was Natalie going for the evening), with three of these
items specific to the manipulated variables. Specifically, in a forced-choice
response format, participants indicated what arrangements Natalie made
for her children prior to going out (left them in the care of a babysitter, left
them alone, did not specify, or can’t recall), the manner in which Natalie’s
lack of consent was conveyed (only verbally, both verbally and physically,
did not specify, or can’t recall), and the tone of Natalie’s emotional response
when recounting the events to her friend (visibly upset, emotionally flat,
did not specify, or can’t recall).
Manipulation Checks
Examination of the manipulation checks revealed that the variations in the
scenario were duly noted by participants. With regard to the manipulation
of gender stereotypicality, 97 percent correctly recalled whether the woman
described in the scenario left her children in the care of a babysitter (stereotypic) or left them unattended (counter stereotypic).57 With regard to the
manipulation of the victim’s degree of resistance, 83 percent of participants
correctly recalled whether the victim resisted Jason’s advances only verbally
or both physically and verbally.58 The variation in the complainant’s emotional display following the assault was also noted by participants, with 95
percent correctly noting the woman’s emotional state when retelling the
events.59 As the vast majority of participants did in fact accurately note
the woman’s behavior portrayed in the scenario, all were retained for the
57. Specifically, all but one participant in the stereotypic condition correctly reported
that the woman left her children in the care of a babysitter, and all but four in the counter
stereotypic condition correctly reported that the woman left her children unattended.
58. Twenty participants in the stereotypic condition and sixteen in the counter stereotypic condition were unable to recall the complainant’s manner of resistance.
59. All but one participant in the stereotypic condition correctly reported the woman’s
emotional tone (emotionally distraught), whereas nine participants in the counter stereotypic condition were unable to recall the woman’s emotional tone.
60. A similar pattern of results is obtained, however, if these participants are removed
from the analyses.
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Evaluations of Complainant Typicality
A series of 2 (gender stereotypicality: stereotypic, counter stereotypic) by
2 (victim stereotypicality: stereotypic, counter stereotypic) by 2 (victim
emotionality: stereotypic, counter stereotypic) ANCOVAs, with participant
gender included as a covariate,61 were conducted on the two composite
measures of perceived complainant typicality (both gender and victim
typicality ratings). ������������������������������������������������������
As expected, the manipulation of gender stereotypicality resulted in a main effect only on perceived gender typicality, F(1,198) =
8.69, p = 0.004, with those in the gender stereotypic condition rating
the complainant as more representative of women in general (M = 4.83,
SD = 1.25) than those in the counter stereotypic condition (M = 4.32,
SD = 1.23). And as expected, the only significant effect produced by the victim resistance manipulation was a main effect on perceived victim typicality,
F(1,198) = 5.08, p = .025, with the complainant who resisted the defendant
both physically and verbally viewed as more stereotypical of a rape victim
(M = 4.65, SD = 1.45), compared to the woman who resisted the defendant
only verbally (M = 4.19, SD = 1.46). In contrast, the manipulation of victim
emotionality resulted in main effects both on perceived gender typicality,
F(1,198) = 5.39, p = 0.03, and on perceived victim typicality, F(1,198) =
44.37, p = 0.001. The complainant portrayed as calm and collected was
viewed as less representative both of women (M = 4.32, SD = 1.25) and of
rape victims in general (M = 3.74, SD = 1.46) than her more emotional
counterparts (Ms = 4.83 and 5.09, SDs = 1.25 and 1.45, for perceived gender
and perceived victim typicality, respectively).
Validity of Sexual Assault Claim and Target Evaluations
The manipulation checks indicated that the variations in the case scenarios
were duly noted by the participants, thus a series of 2 (gender stereotypicality:
stereotypic, counter stereotypic) by 2 (victim stereotypicality: stereotypic,
61. Participant gender was only included as a control variable in the analyses as the n for
male participants was insufficient to detect reliable differences. The analysis of covariance,
often referred to by its acronym ANCOVA, provides a way of measuring and removing the
effects of the supplementary variables (covariates, in this case gender of participant). An
exploratory set of analyses that included gender as a variable, however, revealed few main
effects of participant gender, with no interaction effects involving the manipulated variables
and participant gender.
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Table 1. Mean ratings of validity of sexual
assault as a function of complainant emotionality and gender typicality
Gender typicality
Counter stereotypic
Note: Means within the same row with different subscripts differ
at p < .05 level of significance. counter stereotypic) by 2 (victim emotionality: stereotypic, counter stereotypic) ANCOVAs, with participant gender included as a covariate, were conducted on the case evaluations. With respect to the composite measure tapping the validity of the sexual assault claim, the analyses revealed main effects for both victim stereotypicality, F(1,199) = 11.84, p = .001, and complainant emotionality, F(1,199) = 13.27, p = .001. Specifically, when the complainant resisted the assailant only verbally, the validity of the sexual assault claim was rated less believable (M = 4.52, SD = 1.11), compared to when she resisted physically as well as verbally (M = 5.05, SD = 1.10). With respect to the emotionality manipulation, the claim was rated more believable when the complainant was emotionally distressed (M = 5.06, SD = 1.11) compared to calm (M = 4.51, SD = 1.10). This latter effect, however, was qualified by a two-way interaction involving gender stereotypicality, F(1,199) = 6.23, p = .013. As the means displayed in Table 1 demonstrate, the impact of the emotionality manipulation was only found when the complainant was gender stereotypic, F(1,203) = 18.23, p = .001. In contrast, the emotionality manipulation had no impact when she was gender counter stereotypic, F(1,203) < 1, p = ns. Participants’ ratings of blameworthiness for victims and assailants varied as a function of different predictors. For ratings of the complainant’s blameworthiness, there was a significant main effect for gender stereotypicality, with participants apportioning greater blame to the counter stereotypic woman (M = 4.60, SD = 1.45) than to the stereotypic woman (M = 4.18, SD = 1.47). The blame apportioned to the perpetrator was only influenced by the complainant’s emotionality, with participants rating the assailant more blameworthy if the complainant was emotional (M = 5.67, SD = 1.32), as opposed to calm and controlled (M = 5.26, SD = 1.33). NCLR1304_07.indd 775 11/1/10 5:23:01 PM 7 7 6 | N e w C r i m i n a l L a w R e v i e w | V o l . 1 3 | N o . 4 | Fa l l 2 0 1 0 DISCUSSION T h e results of the study indicated that participants’ judgments of the validity of the sexual assault claim were influenced by the complainant’s typicality in terms of both her gender and her status as a victim of sexual assault. Consistent with prior research,62 participants’ judgments of the validity of the sexual assault claim were influenced by the complainant’s lack of physical resistance, with this variable influencing the degree to which she was viewed in terms of her typicality to sexual assault victims in general. As with the prior research,63 displays of the complainant’s emotionality also had a powerful impact on participants’ judgments of the validity of the sexual assault, with the claim viewed as more valid when she was portrayed as tearful/upset as opposed to calm/controlled. This effect was, however, only observed for complainants portrayed as gender stereotypic. The validity of the claim of the complainants portrayed as gender counter stereotypic did not differ as a function of her emotional display. These results suggest that the claims of those gender-stereotypic complainants who conform to expectations and act in an emotional way are viewed most positively. The claims of gender-stereotypical complainants responding in an unexpected nonemotional way, however, may be viewed with greater scepticism. Indeed, the validity of the claims made by the nonemotional gender-stereotypic woman was perceived to be as low as the validity of the claims made by the gender–counter stereotypic woman. Such results are consistent with the notion that the validity of an alleged victim’s claim is partially assessed through her emotional reaction, with the expectation that a victim of sexual assault should be emotionally distraught. The interaction of gender stereotypicality with emotionality is of particular interest as it suggests that people may use their overall judgement of the gender stereotypicality of the complainant to anchor their expectations for the emotionality of the victim. Consistent with emotionality as a component of the gender stereotype for women,64 the inconsistency of a gender-stereotypical woman presenting 62. Ehrlich, supra note 30; Temkin & Krahé, supra note 6. 63. For example: Bollingmo et al. (2008), supra note 39; Ellison & Munro (2009a and b), supra note 39. 64. Inge K. Boverman, Susan R. Vogel, Donald M. Broverman, Frank E. Clarkson, & Paul S. Rosenkrantz, Sex-Role Stereotypes: A Current Appraisal. 28 J, Soc. Issues 59–78 NCLR1304_07.indd 776 11/1/10 5:23:01 PM J U D G M E N T S O F S E X U AL A S S A U L T | 7 7 7 in a calm and controlled manner results in the validity of her claim being questioned. In contrast, although emotionality had an effect on perceptions of both victim and gender stereotypicality, it did not interact with victim stereotypicality to impact on judgments. Consistent with past research,65 the claims of victims behaving in a stereotypical manner (i.e., physically resisting their assailant) were considered to be more valid than the claims of those behaving in a counter-stereotypical manner. As such, whereas it is theoretically and empirically possible to identify independent effects of victim and gender stereotypicality,66 it is also possible that, with regard to the interpretation of emotionality, gender stereotypicality may ultimately be the central basis for evaluating victims of sexual assault. It is possible that other aspects of the victim that have previously been shown to influence perceptions (e.g., intoxication) may also have their effect primarily in conjunction with gender stereotypicality. That is, the overall gender stereotypicality of the victim is used to anchor more general expectations about the victim’s behavior. This is perhaps not too surprising given the status of gender as one of the primary bases for categorization.67 In contrast to the moderated effect observed in relation to the validity of the sexual assault claim, there were only main effects for the measures of victim and perpetrator blame. Interestingly, and consistent with past research,68 gender stereotypicality was associated with less blame attributed to the victim; however only the emotionality manipulation influenced levels of perpetrator blame.69 Specifically, assailants of victims who presented as emotional had more blame attributed to them than assailants of victims who presented as calm. This aspect of the results contrasts with the results of Abrams and colleagues70 and Viki and colleagues,71 who (1972); T. L. Rule, Sex Stereotypes: Issues of Change in the 70s. 9 Sex Roles 397–402 (1983); Swim, supra note 46. 65. Cook et al., supra note 30. Ehrlich, supra note 30. Lees, supra note 30. 66. Masser et al., supra note 26. 67. Diane M. Mackie, David L. Hamilton, Joshua Susskind & Francine Rosselli, Social Psychological Foundations of Stereotype Formation, in C. Neil Macrae, Charles Stangor & Miles Hewstone eds., Stereotypes and Stereotyping 41–78 (1996). 68. Abrams et al., supra note 33 ; Masser et al., supra note 26. 69. G. Tendayi Viki, Kristina Massey & Barbara Masser, When Chivalry Backfires: Benevolent Sexism and Attitudes Toward Myra Hindley, 10 Legal & Criminological Psychol. 109–20 (2004). 70. Abrams et al., supra note 33. 71. Viki et al., supra note 69. NCLR1304_07.indd 777 11/1/10 5:23:02 PM 7 7 8 | N e w C r i m i n a l L a w R e v i e w | V o l . 1 3 | N o . 4 | Fa l l 2 0 1 0 found inverse complimentary effects for measures of victim and perpetrator blame: higher levels of benevolent sexism were associated with an increase in victim blame72 and a corresponding decrease in perpetrator blame.73 The finding in the present study that gender stereotypicality influenced victim blame and that emotionality influenced perpetrator blame may result from the combined effects of gender stereotypicality and emotionality as seen on perceptions of validity. Alternatively, the impact of emotionality may affect more than the believability of the victim; rather, emotionality may jointly influence perceptions of the severity of the sexual assault as well. As such, the perpetrator is seen in a more negative light if the assault is perceived to have had a more severe impact on the victim. Such possible conclusions at this point are speculative, however, and must await future research. In documenting the effects that variations in gender and victim stereotypicality and victim emotionality can have on judgments of sexual assault victims and perpetrators, the question remains as to how to reduce the impact of these variables. As noted previously, in reality, whether or not the victim is victim and/or gender stereotypical and/or presents in an emotional manner bears no relation on whether sexual assault has occurred. In attempting to reduce the impact of these variables in judgments of sexual assault, Masser, Whitting, and McKimmie74 conducted an experiment in which participants read an acquaintance rape scenario in which the victim was either stereotypical or counter stereotypical and in which nondiagnostic biographical information about the victim was either present or absent. In support of a stereotype dilution effect, the significant association between counter stereotypicality and heightened victim blame was eliminated when nondiagnostic biographical (i.e., diluting) information was provided. The efficacy of this approach, however, awaits future research, as Bohner and his colleagues75 have found the obverse; that is, providing participants with more case-irrelevant information decreased perceptions of perpetrator guilt, especially for participants scoring high in rape myth acceptance. 72. Abrams et al., supra note 33. 73. Viki et al., supra note 69. 74. Barbara Masser, Laura Whitting & Blake McKimmie, Diluting Stereotypes: A Means to Eradicate the Influence of Stereotypes of “Genuine” Victims of Sexual Assault on Attributions of Blame? (2010) (unpublished manuscript, on file with the University of Queensland). 75. Friederike Eyssel & Gerd Bohner (2008), cited in Bohner et al., supra note 13. NCLR1304_07.indd 778 11/1/10 5:23:02 PM J U D G M E N T S O F S E X U AL A S S A U L T | 7 7 9 Adopting a different strategy, Winkel and Koppelaar76 note that those who come into contact with sexual assault victims (e.g., police officers, jurors, etc.) should be made aware of the fact that different victims will respond to the event in different ways, with no particular way of responding indicative of a truthful account. With this aim in mind, Ellison and Munro conducted a jury simulation study in which they used educational guidance to mitigate juror’s unrealistic expectations of sexual assault victims.77 Specifically, they presented a small sample of mock jurors with live reenactments of sexual assault trials in which they varied the complainant’s level of physical resistance, the time delay between the incident and the complainant’s report to the police, as well as her emotional demeanor in court. Half of the juries were provided with some educational guidance either through expert testimony at the start of the trial or from the judge at the end of the trial, informing them of the varied reactions a sexual assault victim may display, as well as why a victim may delay reporting or fail to resist during an attack. Although these efforts failed to mitigate the impact of jurors’ unrealistic expectations regarding the complainants’ degree of resistance, those provided with expert or judicial guidance were less troubled by the complainant’s delay in responding and were more willing to accept the complainant’s calm demeanor. Similarly, Bollingmo and colleagues found that, when participants were warned against using a complainant’s emotional expression as a sign of credibility, the impact of this variable was dampened.78 Although such educational innovations may prove efficacious in mitigating jurors’ unrealistic expectations of sexual assault victims, evidence from the child witness literature suggests that care should be taken to educate jurors systematically that a range of possible reactions to assault can be indicative of a genuine claim of sexual assault.79 In closing, it must be noted that, although the current research has contributed to the literature in systematically exploring the impact of victim and gender stereotypicality in conjunction with victim emotionality on judgments of rape victims and perpetrators, a number of methodological 76. Winkel & Koppelaar, supra note 41. 77. Ellison & Munro (2009a and b), supra note 39. 78. Bollingmo et al. (2009), supra note 39. 79. Margaret B. Kovera, April W. Gresham, Eugene Borgida, Ellen Gray, & Pamela C. Regan, Does Expert Psychological Testimony Inform or Influence Juror Decision Making?: A Social Cognitive Analysis, 82 J. Applied Psychol. 178–91 (1997). NCLR1304_07.indd 779 11/1/10 5:23:03 PM 7 8 0 | N e w C r i m i n a l L a w R e v i e w | V o l . 1 3 | N o . 4 | Fa l l 2 0 1 0 limitations of the current study can be noted. Building on Masser and colleague’s distinction between gender and victim stereotypes, 80 it may have been preferable in the context of the current study to consider the independent effect of emotionality in conjunction with victim and gender stereotypicality. This empirically would have assisted in highlighting the unique contribution of each stereotype, but practically it may have been neither possible nor desirable. As noted previously, in the context of sexual assault, victim and gender stereotypes are likely to overlap. As such, many factors demonstrated to impact on the evaluation of victims or perpetrators of sexual assault (e.g., victims who are not chaste, dress provocatively, drink, etc.81) may jointly impact on both victim and gender stereotypes. In moving experimental research forward to represent adequately the complexity of information presented to jurors at trial, of greater practical interest may be how these elements work with, or influence, stereotypical judgments known to occur in these contexts. A research agenda systematically exploring such issues, ��������������������������������������������������������� using more realistic trial materials and under more naturalistic settings (e.g., that incorporate mock jurors’ deliberations), could ultimately provide some guidance for how best to address the pernicious impact that prescriptive norms surrounding emotionality can have in the adjudication of sexual assault. 80. Masser et al., supra note 26. 81. Du Mont et al., supra note 1; Kelly, supra note 29; Hammock & Richardson, supra note 29; Kanekar & Kolsawalla, supra note 29; Schuller & Wall, supra note 29; Stormo et al., supra note 29; Workman & Freeburg, supra note 29; Wall & Schuller, supra note 29. NCLR1304_07.indd 780 11/1/10 5:23:03 PM Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Purchase answer to see full attachment

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