Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Amy Cohn

Co-Major Professor

Kathleen Heide


Alcohol, Cognitions, Hyperfemininity, IAT, Rape


Rape remains a significant problem in the U.S., with the majority of victims reporting a drug-or-alcohol facilitated rape (DAFR) or incapacitated rape (IR). Many DAFR/IR victims do not acknowledge the incident as a rape, and are therefore are the least likely to report or disclose the assault. Rape scripts theory is one theory that could be used to explain why DAFR/IR victims are more likely than other victims to not acknowledge the incident. In addition, individuals are more likely to blame the victim of a DAFR/IR rape. Furthermore, DAFR/IR victims experience more self-blame for the incident. Taken together, when alcohol is involved in a rape, the victim is viewed as more responsible for the assault. The majority of studies that examine blame for a sexual assault rely on explicit self-report methods. However, implicit beliefs may be more accurate in measuring unbiased beliefs that individuals hold. Implicit attitudes are commonly measured using an Implicit Association Task (IAT). Moreover, hyperfemininity (HF) is a personality characteristic that may influence blame for a sexual assault. Women higher in HF value relationships with men and are willing to use their sexuality as a means to maintain the relationships. Therefore, the present study hypothesized that women higher in HF who read a scenario of a rape involving alcohol will be more likely to implicitly blame the victim.

A sample of undergraduate college women completed a battery of questionnaires, read a written scenario depicting a rape in which the victim and perpetrator consumed either alcohol or soda, and completed an IAT. The IAT instructed participants to correctly categorize two sets of stimuli. The stimuli used for the IAT were words that described the victim (innocent-related words) and perpetrator (guilt-related words) of the scenario, and pictures of alcohol and soda. Faster reaction times of categorization indicated a stronger IAT effect; that is, more blame towards the victim of an alcohol involved assault. Results indicated that HF did not influence the relationship between written scenario condition and implicit blame for the rape.

Because Women who have not been sexually victimized may hold strong rape myth acceptance and thus may assign more blame to the victim of a sexual assault (Mason et al., 2004), an exploratory analysis was conducted to determine if sexual victimization history impacted the relationship between rape myth acceptance and implicit blame for a sexual assault. Results showed that women without a history of sexual victimization may hold certain rape myths, but implicitly believe that alcohol can be associated with guilt or blame towards the perpetrator of a rape. Additionally, women with a history of SV who hold certain rape myths may be less likely to blame the perpetrator of a rape when alcohol is involved. Detailed results of the present study, policy and public health implications, and future directions are discussed.