Negative third-party reactions to male and female victims of rape: The influence of harm and normativity concerns

Eva Mulder, Gerd Bohner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Male and female victims of sexual violence frequently experience secondary
victimization in the form of victim blame and other negative reactions
by their social surroundings. However, it remains unclear whether these
negative reactions differ from each other, and what mechanisms underlie
negative reactions toward victims. In one laboratory study (N = 132) and
one online study (N = 421), the authors assessed participants’ reactions
to male and female victims, and whether different (moral) concerns
underlay these reactions. The reactions addressed included positive and
negative emotions, behavioral and characterological blame, explicit and
implicit derogation, and two measures of distancing. It was hypothesized
that male victimization would evoke different types of (negative) reactions
compared with female victimization, and that normative concerns would
predict a greater proportion of the variance of reactions to male victims
than female victims. Multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs) were
conducted to test whether reactions to male and female (non-)victims
differed. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to test the influence
of gender traditionality, homonegativity, as well as binding and individualizing moral values on participants’ reactions. Results revealed that participants
consistently reacted more negatively to victims than to nonvictims, and
more so to male than to female targets. Binding values were a regular
predictor of negative reactions to victims, whereas they predicted positive
reactions to nonvictims. The hypothesis that different mechanisms underlie
reactions to male versus female victims was not supported. The discussion
addresses implications of this research for interventions targeting secondary
victimization and for future research investigating social reactions to victims
of sexual violence. It also addresses limitations of the current research and
considerations of diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Apr 2020


  • cultural contexts
  • date rape
  • male victims
  • sexual assault

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