Individual and Social Factors Related to Perceptions of Rape
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Ninety-two men, including twenty pairs of male friends, completed a series of self-report measures that sought to measure their levels of rape myth acceptance and asked men to estimate their friend’s level of rape myth acceptance. Further self-report measures assessed participants’ likelihood to intervene as bystanders, social and ethical risk taking behaviors, and definitions of rape as demonstrated through responses to questions about a hypothetical sexual assault. Analyses indicated that participants were moderately accurate in assessing their friend’s level of rape myth acceptance. Additionally, friends showed similar levels of rape myth acceptance. Level of rape myth acceptance was found to increase as likelihood for bystander intervention decreased. The accuracy of men in estimating their friend’s acceptance of rape myths and the similarity of their friend’s beliefs to their own suggests that men are aware of a socially normal level of rape myth acceptance. The relationship of rape myth acceptance to bystander intervention behavior supports the need for sexual assault prevention education focused on reducing levels of rape myth acceptance.