About OpenKnowledge@NAU | For NAU Authors

Words matter: Measuring rape myth acceptance through survey design

Fejervary, Jenna (2017) Words matter: Measuring rape myth acceptance through survey design. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

[img] Text
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (719kB) | Request a copy


Sexual assault on college campuses has been a pervasive topic in American media, legislation, culture, and politics for some time. Recent legislative initiatives have increased the requirements of college campuses to investigate reported instances of sexual violence, educate communities about risk factors, and provide services to victims. The prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses is attributed to a multitude of factors. Among these, the acceptance of rape myths has been correlated with an increased propensity for males to offend and increased self-blame among victims (Powers et al., 2015). Rape myths are culturally held beliefs that create a climate that normalizes sexual violence, specifically, violence by men against women. While many do not consider the use of such language as harmful in and of itself, research shows that perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence are more likely to adhere to such myths among other attitudinal characteristics.This research examines how wording changes to one rape myth acceptance measure, the Updated Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (uIRMA) (McMahon & Farmer, 2011), affects student responses to the rape myth acceptance measures. I hypothesized that students are unlikely to respond honestly to measures of rape myth acceptance because of word choice that is socially undesirable, such as using the word, “rape,” and gendered language structure that places men in the role of perpetrator and women and girls in the role of victim. It was hypothesized that a theoretically rooted update to the measurement tool that uses gender neutral language and replaces the word “rape” with “sexual assault” would result in an increased acceptance of rape myths.Using classical experimental design, respondents were randomly assigned to two test groups: one with the original uIRMA language, and one with a revised version (referred to as the rIRMA) that uses gender-neutral phrasing and eliminates the word, “rape.” The findings of this research are in support of the hypothesis. Students given the revised measure showed heightened acceptance of rape myths as compared to those who received the uIRMA.The importance of reliable and relevant measurement tools is paramount to social scientific research. In the field of campus sexual violence, an accurate understanding of student perceptions and attitudes can help predict perpetration within communities and prevent self-blame among victims. This research is a small contribution to an important body of research regarding the attitudes and beliefs that may precipitate sexual assault.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Campus; Rape myth acceptance; Sexual assault
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Criminology and Criminal Justice
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2017 21:32
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5007

Actions (login required)

IR Staff Record View IR Staff Record View


Downloads per month over past year