The influence of ‘High’ vs. ‘Low’ rape myth acceptance on police officers’ judgements of victim and perpetrator responsibility, and rape authenticity

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  • University of West London


Purpose: Previous studies suggest that officers’ level of rape myth acceptance (RMA) is predictive of their case decision making and judgements towards victim-survivors. However, few studies have directly assessed the relationship between RMA and responsibility and authenticity judgments. Methods: 808 UK police officers categorised as ‘high’ or ‘low’ in rape myth acceptance made judgements of victim and perpetrator responsibility, and case authenticity, towards one of 16 vignettes depicting a hypothetical rape scenario varying on victim-perpetrator relationship, victim reputation, and initial point of resistance. Results: Officers categorised as ‘high’ in RMA rated victims as more responsible, perpetrators as less responsible, and cases as less authentic than those deemed to be ‘low’ in RMA. When rape-myth related factors were present, both individually and in combination, judgements by officers ‘high’ in RMA were more negative than those ‘low’ in RMA. Conclusions: Results suggest that officers ‘high’ in RMA may judge victims of rape differently to those ‘low’ in RMA, particularly when rape myth-related extra-legal case factors are present. The potential implications for training and selection are discussed.

Bibliographic note

Publisher Copyright: © 2018 Elsevier Ltd


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-107
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Early online date13 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Judgments, Objective policing, Police officers, Rape, Rape myths