Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Shelley A. Smith


The objectives of my dissertation are to: 1) determine the social psychological factors affecting rape myth judgments and, 2) develop an instrument that utilizes realistic social contexts to measure acquaintance rape myth adherence among undergraduate students. The Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (IRMA; McMahon and Farmer 2011; Payne et al. 1999) was used to create acquaintance rape vignettes using factorial surveys (Rossi and Anderson 1982). I manipulated factors known to be associated with victim-blame such as alcohol, a previous sexual relationship, if the woman is dressed provocatively, the type of relationship (e.g., acquaintance versus friend), if the woman verbally protested, and if the woman physically resisted. Using Qualtrics© software, I developed an online survey and recruited introductory sociology students to participate in this research producing an average of 835 vignettes for statistical analyses. Key findings indicate that after controlling for all of the situational variables, the most significant factors related to victim-blame are the respondents’ sexual history and sexual consent (i.e., if the woman verbally and physically protested). This finding is critical as it suggests that even after the “Yes Means Yes” initiative (Affirmative Consent Standard), sexual consent is still constructed using verbal and physical cues of non-consent. This research has implications for informing our understanding of the causal factors contributing to the experiences of rape and sexual assault and the pervasiveness of false ideologies that blame women for their sexual victimization.


© 2017, Michelle E. Deming

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