Date of Award

Summer 8-2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Oswald, Debra L.

Second Advisor

John, Grych

Third Advisor

Stephen, Franzoi


This study examined how rape myths are used to protect the perpetrator, particularly high-status perpetrators. Participants read a date-rape scenario. The status of the victim and perpetrator were manipulated as well as the threat the victim posed to the perpetrator as depicted by whom the victim would tell about the rape. Participants with a strong system justification orientation reported lower rape myth acceptance when a low-status victim decided to tell no one about a high-status perpetrator raping her compared to when she decided to report him to the police. This suggests that rape myth acceptance is malleable and that the absence of rape myth acceptance may be the reward for low-status victims who do not threaten the status quo.