Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Cheryl L. Somers


The purpose of this study was to investigate college students' perception of an uncomfortable sexual experience and identify factors that may reinforce revictimization of rape victims. An additional purpose was to compare perceptions of rape victims to perceptions of those who have never been raped, but because the sample size of rape victims was too small, and the data could not be analyzed and data from rape victims were eliminated from further analyses. In the final sample, data were collected from 296 college students attending a large commuter campus university. Participants were randomly assigned to read one of four scenarios that depicted an uncomfortable sexual experience between two college students. Two variables were manipulated in the scenarios--victim's dress (non-revealing/revealing) and the setting of the incident (unknowingly alone/knowingly alone)--otherwise the content of the scenarios remained consistent. After reading the scenario, participants responded to questions regarding the degree to which they acknowledged the incident as rape, blamed the victim, and deemed the incident should be reported to the police. Participants then responded to a series of items from three instruments regarding belief in a just world, rape myth acceptance, and sex role stereotyping.

Findings indicated that participants who were more accepting of rape myths were less likely to acknowledge the incident as rape and more likely to blame the victim than those who were less accepting of rape myths. Gender, and rape myth acceptance were significant predictors of acknowledging the incident as rape. Race/ethnicity and rape myth acceptance were significant predictors of blaming the victim and rape myth acceptance, and type of dress were significant predictors of deeming the incident should be reported to the police. Discussion includes implication of all findings, possible explanations for lack of significant findings and suggestions for future research.