Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Mental Health Counseling and Applied Psychology




College of Science & Mathematics

First Advisor

Angelone, DJ


Counseling psychology; Rape victims--Counseling of




The primary purpose of this study was to examine whether perpetrator motivation or relationship status of the victim and perpetrator influence participant perceptions of a sexual assault. Participants were 143 students exposed to a stimulus in which the perpetrator's motivation was varied as having feelings of entitlement, rejection, or sexually motivated. The relationship status of the victim and perpetrator were also varied as either dating for six months or on a first date (acquaintance). Male participants were found to attribute more blame to the victim and less blame to the perpetrator when compared to female participants. Women who read the acquaintance stimulus attributed more guilt to the perpetrator than men. Perpetrator motivation interacted with relationship status, with participants rating the offense less as rape when exposed to the rejection condition and dating six months condition. Gender also interacted with motivation with male participants attributing less victim pleasure in the rejection condition and more victim pleasure in the sex condition than did female participants. Participants receiving the acquaintance stimulus were more likely to view the perpetrator as being guilty than those who read the dating six month stimulus. These results suggest that perpetrator motivation, relationship status, and gender can influence perceptions of sexual assault.

Included in

Psychology Commons