Graduate Program

Clinical Psychology

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

1998

Thesis Director

Ronan S. Bernas

Abstract

This study examined how the following factors found in the American college experience predicted college students' acceptance of myths concerning rape: students' gender, personal knowledge of a rape survivor, attitude toward alcohol consumption, actual alcohol consumption, and fraternity/sorority (Greek) membership. Eighty-eight male and 239 female college students completed a demographic survey, the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (Payne, 1993), and the Alcohol Expectancy Questionnaire (Brown, Christ, and Goldman, 1987). Results indicate that the college students' actual alcohol consumption rate was not predictive of rape myth acceptance. However, all other factors examined in the study interacted in predicting rape myth acceptance. Gender, attitude toward alcohol consumption, and Greek membership interacted in explaining overall rape myth acceptance. Specifically, male and female Greek members with negative attitudes toward alcohol consumption did not differ in the extent to which they believed rape myths. However, when their alcohol attitudes were positive, male Greek members believed in rape myths more than female Greek members. A different pattern appeared among non-Greek members. Specifically, male non-Greeks believed in rape myths more than female non-Greeks, regardless of alcohol consumption attitude. The second prominent interaction pattern emerged from the following two factors when predicting overall rape myth acceptance: gender and personal knowledge of a rape survivor. For male participants, knowing a rape survivor personally made them less likely to believe in rape myths than males without such knowledge. On the other hand, personal knowledge of a rape survivor did not have an influence on female participants' beliefs. Implications of these complex interactions on specific areas of rape myth acceptance, as well as on efforts to reduce sexual violence against women, were discussed.

COinS