"Passive victim – strong survivor"? Perceived meaning of labels applied to women who were raped

Papendick M, Bohner G (2017)
PLOS ONE 12(5): e0177550.

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Journal Article | Original Article | Published | English
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Abstract
Three experiments (total *N* = 464) were conducted in parallel with English- and German-speaking participants to examine the perceived meanings and effects of the labels "victim" versus "survivor" (and their German equivalents) when applied to a woman who was raped. In Study 1 (*N* = 179), participants read a rape vignette and then rated the meaning of the label it contained (either "victim" or "survivor") on a 15-item semantic differential. Independent of language and participant gender, "survivor" was perceived more positively overall (e.g., as *strong, brave, active*) than was "victim" (*weak, passive*, but also *innocent*). In Study 2 (*N* = 95), labels were varied within items assessing judgments of an acquaintance-rape case (e.g., *"Does the victim [survivor] . . . carry a certain responsibility for what happened?"*), focusing on short-term outcomes. Significant interaction effects of label and participants' gender emerged on case-related judgments. Participants in both language samples judged "survivor" to be a less appropriate term than "victim". In Study 3 (N = 190), participants read a text in which a woman who had been raped labeled herself as either "victim" or "survivor", focusing on the coping with sexual violence. As in Study 2, German-language participants showed no significant effects of the label on their case judgments but rejected the term "survivor" as inappropriate; English-language participants, by contrast, perceived the woman describing herself as "survivor" to be more psychologically stable and regarded the use of both labels as appropriate. Results are discussed in terms of their applied relevance for communicating about sexual violence.
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Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Open Access Publication Fund of Bielefeld University.
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Papendick M, Bohner G. "Passive victim – strong survivor"? Perceived meaning of labels applied to women who were raped. PLOS ONE. 2017;12(5): e0177550.
Papendick, M., & Bohner, G. (2017). "Passive victim – strong survivor"? Perceived meaning of labels applied to women who were raped. PLOS ONE, 12(5), e0177550. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0177550
Papendick, M., and Bohner, G. (2017). "Passive victim – strong survivor"? Perceived meaning of labels applied to women who were raped. PLOS ONE 12:e0177550.
Papendick, M., & Bohner, G., 2017. "Passive victim – strong survivor"? Perceived meaning of labels applied to women who were raped. PLOS ONE, 12(5): e0177550.
M. Papendick and G. Bohner, “"Passive victim – strong survivor"? Perceived meaning of labels applied to women who were raped”, PLOS ONE, vol. 12, 2017, : e0177550.
Papendick, M., Bohner, G.: "Passive victim – strong survivor"? Perceived meaning of labels applied to women who were raped. PLOS ONE. 12, : e0177550 (2017).
Papendick, Michael, and Bohner, Gerd. “"Passive victim – strong survivor"? Perceived meaning of labels applied to women who were raped”. PLOS ONE 12.5 (2017): e0177550.
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