To blame or not to blame: How target race affects rape blame attribution

Date of Completion

January 2004


Black Studies|Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical




Previous research has established that Black and White rape survivors and perpetrators are viewed differently in our society. However, few studies have addressed the specific factors that may influence these differential attributions. This study attempts to bridge this gap by evaluating racist and sexist stereotypes that might contribute to the differential judgments of Black versus White perpetrators and victims, including the racist myth of the Black rapist of White women and the Jezebel and Matriarch stereotypes of Black women. Correlation analyses revealed a significant positive correlation between victim blame and victim resiliency and a significant negative correlation between victim resiliency and perpetrator culpability, supporting that being perceived as strong and resilient increases victim blame and reduces the accountability attributed to the rape perpetrator. Data also showed that, compared to female participants, male participants blamed Black rape survivors significantly more and viewed rape survivors, regardless of race, as more promiscuous. Contrary to predictions, male participants rated Black perpetrators as less culpable when their victims were White versus Black, and there were no significant differences found for resiliency (Matriarch subscale). Reasons for and implications of findings are explored. ^