U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Presumed Motive in the Male and Female Perception of Rape

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 7 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1980) Pages: 257-274
A B Heilbrun
Date Published
18 pages
Sexual differences in rape stereotypes stemming from subjective impressions of rape were investigated in order to determine if rape sterotypes of males and females differed when a sexual or an aggressive motive was assumed.
Almost exclusively white college students (132 males and 128 females) from middle class or higher socioeconomic backgrounds were asked to provide impressions of rape by means of ratings for seven characteristics: (1) age, (2) educational level of the rapist, (3) prior relationship between rapist and victim, (4) premeditation, (5) physical force, (6) psychological threat represented in the act, and (7) the aggressive or sexual motive underlying the rape. Subjects were initially asked to spontaneously rate their impressions of rape in regard to six characteristics without receiving and special instructions regarding motive for the act. Following this stereotypical rating, subjects next provided their perceptions of rape according the same first six characteristics but also predicated on instructions to add the seventh characteristic of aggressive or sexual motive underlying the rape. Chi-square analysis of findings indicated that males' spontaneous rape stereotypes of females did not differentiate on the basis of motive. The females' stereotype of a sexually motivated rape was a highly structured organization involving all of the first six characteristics within two factors when they considered rape as a purely sexual act, but females demonstrated no organization of their perceptions at all when asked to consider rape as an aggressive act. However, no organization was found to the females' stereotype when an aggressive motive was assumed. In contrast, males imposed a limited amount of structure whether the stereotype called for was aggressive or sexual. Implications of the stereotype findings for credibility of the woman's report of rape were discussed. Three data tables and 23 references are provided. (Author abstract modified).


No download available