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Conceptions of Rape

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Where previous studies have examined attitudes and perceptions of the rape act, we have attempted to delve into the meanings which people impute at a less conscious level. Using Semantic Differential methodology, a stratified sample of participants rated the concepts of "assault," "rape," "seduction" and "love-making"; these were chosen along an underlying dimension of violence/coercion. Analysis incorporating the blocking variables (gender X SES) and other demographic personal information demonstrated that: "assault/rape" and "seduction/love-making" were seen as similar; "rape/seduction" as somewhat similar; and "assault/love-making" and "rape/love-making" as dissimilar. In general, important demographic/personal variables yielded no interpretable results. However, "prior rape experience" influenced participants' conceptions of the act of rape significantly. This result is discussed in light of some mixed results of previous studies in this area. We also present suggestions for interventions, based on the findings of this study.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.

Publication date: January 1, 1988

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