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

    3 Citations (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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