Schematic effects of rape myth acceptance

Süssenbach P (2011)
Bielefeld: Universität Bielefeld.

Bielefeld Dissertation | English
Bohner, Gerd ; Eyssel, Friederike
In a set of studies, the present work investigates the type of influence exerted by rape myth acceptance (RMA). Rape myths may be defined as "beliefs about rape (i.e., about its causes, context, consequences, perpetrators, victims, and their interaction) that serve to deny, downplay or justify male sexual aggression against women" (Gerger, Kley, Bohner, & Siebler, 2007, p. 423). In this work the hypothesis is made and tested that the acceptance of rape myths influences the processing of relevant information in form of a cognitive schema. The term "schema" denotes a structured unit of knowledge about an object or concept that represents abstract or generalized knowledge and is stored in long-term memory. The empirical part of this work is based upon three manuscripts. (a) In manuscript 1 the acceptance of rape myths is investigated among a representative sample of German residents. The focus of the study is on demographic and attitudinal correlates of RMA. The findings indicate that RMA can be conceptualized as being part of a more general hostility or intolerance schema than encompasses further devaluing attitude constructs such as xenophobia or anti-Semitism. Furthermore, the observed substantial endorsement of rape myths documents that the study of RMA is socially relevant. (b) Manuscript 2 addresses boundary conditions for RMA-dependent schematic processing. The role of attitude strength as a potential moderator of effects of RMA on information processing and behavioral intentions is studied. The results show that meta-cognitive attitude strength – this includes among other indicators the subjective security or non-ambivalence participants experience while filling out a RMA scale –influences whether or not participants´ RMA will affect their thoughts and behavior. (c) Two studies are reported in manuscript 3 that use eye tracking methodology to capture schema-related process variables online. Research participants are asked to view visual material during a mock jury study. They see a photograph of the alleged scene of crime, the living room of the complainant. Depending upon condition participants view one of two photographs. In one of the photographs two stimuli are depicted that might be used by participants high in RMA to blame the victim, whereas filler items are depicted in the other photograph. In the critical condition in which RMA-applicable stimuli are present, one of the stimuli is expected by participants high in RMA due to the narrative of the case, whereas the other stimuli is surprising for all participants. Study 1 demonstrates that the RMA-applicable and expected but not the unexpected stimulus is fixated earlier by participants high in RMA. In terms of schema theory, this finding is interpreted as reflecting hypervigilance. Furthermore, with increasing RMA the RMA-applicable and expected stimulus is fixated shorter therefore indicating faster processing. This ease of processing is the consequence of a fit between incoming information and activated knowledge structures resulting in fast and efficient processing. In a second study, level of RMA is experimentally manipulated. The findings show that this manipulation only affects viewing patterns for the expected stimulus, thus supporting the causal assumption underlying the first study that RMA and not another related variable is responsible for the observed differences in viewing patterns. The results of these studies emphasize the interplay of individual (i.e., RMA) and situational (i.e., case-related expectancy) factors in the genesis of schematic processing.

Cite this

Süssenbach P. Schematic effects of rape myth acceptance. Bielefeld: Universität Bielefeld; 2011.
Süssenbach, P. (2011). Schematic effects of rape myth acceptance. Bielefeld: Universität Bielefeld.
Süssenbach, P. (2011). Schematic effects of rape myth acceptance. Bielefeld: Universität Bielefeld.
Süssenbach, P., 2011. Schematic effects of rape myth acceptance, Bielefeld: Universität Bielefeld.
P. Süssenbach, Schematic effects of rape myth acceptance, Bielefeld: Universität Bielefeld, 2011.
Süssenbach, P.: Schematic effects of rape myth acceptance. Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld (2011).
Süssenbach, Philipp. Schematic effects of rape myth acceptance. Bielefeld: Universität Bielefeld, 2011.
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