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Thesis Defence: Rape Myth Acceptance, Sexism, and Mental Representations of Sexual Assault Survivors

June 15 at 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Jayme Stewart, supervised by Dr. Leanne ten Brinke, will defend their thesis titled “Rape Myth Acceptance, Sexism, and Mental Representations of Sexual Assault Survivors ” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in in Psychology.

An abstract for Jayme Stewart’s thesis is included below.

Examinations are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.


ABSTRACT

Despite being the second most common form of violent crime in Canada, sexual assault it is one of the lowest reported violent crimes. When survivors do report to family, friends, and police, they are commonly disbelieved or dismissed —particularly when they do not conform to expectations of how a survivor should look or act. Accordingly, understanding stereotypes about sexual assault survivors is an important factor to improving responses to sexual assault disclosures. Though research indicates that those with attitudes reflecting rape myth acceptance and sexism are less likely to believe a sexual assault disclosure, little is known about how these attitudes manifest into stereotypes of sexual assault survivors. Using a novel, data driven technique that allows for the estimation of assumption and bias-free images, this study examined how rape myth acceptance and sexism affect mental representations of sexual assault survivors. Ninety-six participants completed a 400-trial reverse correlation (RC) task as well as measures related to rape myth acceptance and sexism. Ninety-six individual-level CIs were generated by aggregating the visual noise in each RC trial, providing a visual representation of each participants’ stereotype of a sexual assault survivor’s appearance. An additional independent sample of 86 participants each rated 30 of the individual-level CIs on various appearance variables, including trustworthiness, vulnerability, and femininity. Results demonstrated that each attitude variable was negatively associated with perceptions of vulnerability, while hostile sexism and the ‘she lied’ rape myth were negatively related to trustworthiness. Additionally, women produced mental representations that were perceived as more vulnerable than men. After accounting for the role of gender, rape myth acceptance emerged as the sole predictor of vulnerability ratings. Taken together, this research expands our current understanding of perceptions of sexual assault survivors. And, importantly, by identifying how attitudes are related to disbelief of survivors, this research may serve as a stepping-stone towards improving responses to sexual assault disclosures.

Details

Date:
June 15
Time:
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Venue

Arts and Sciences Centre (ASC)
3187 University Way
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7 Canada
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Additional Info

Room Number
209
Registration/RSVP Required
No
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Topic
Arts and Humanities, Research and Innovation
Audiences
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates