Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Criminology

Major Professor

Kathleen M. Heide, Ph.D.

Keywords

Rape myths, Sexual violence, Campus, Scales, Attitudes

Abstract

The phenomena of sexual violence have been studied on college campuses for over 50 years. Despite changes in society's attitudes towards women and gains made by women in education and the work force since the 1960s, research reveals that the incidence and prevalence rates of date rape have not changed significantly over the years. Extant literature indicates that endorsement of rape myths has been found to be associated with sexual aggression by males. A review of existing instruments revealed that current assessments of rape supportive attitudes and beliefs appear outdated in their language and may not be geared for today's college population. This study used a newly developed instrument, the Rape Supportive Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (RABS), by Gerald H. Burgess (2007) to survey male and female undergraduate students (N=224) with respect to their attitudes and beliefs regarding rape.

The male participants were also asked if they had engaged or would consider engaging in forced sexual behavior under a variety of circumstances. The present study was designed to replicate and extend the findings of Burgess. Burgess studied a sample of undergraduate students in a rural university. Participants in this study, in contrast, were from a large metropolitan university with a much more diverse student body. This study found, similar to Burgess' research, that there are significant gender differences in endorsement of rape myths between men and women, as measured by a series of t-tests. As expected, men scored higher than women on the RABS, meaning greater endorsement of rape myths. In contrast to Burgess' findings, this study did not find that endorsement of rape myths was related to proclivity to sexual violence. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) additionally revealed a factor structure that differed from the original 5-factor structure proposed by Burgess.

The discussion focuses on the meaning of the similarities and differences between the two studies and directions for future research.

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