Sex Roles, Vol. 42, Nos. 9/10, 2000
Beliefs About the Causes of Four Types of Rape
California State University, San Bernardino
Beliefs about the causes of stranger, acquaintance, date, and partner rape
and treatment and punishment for the types of rape were examined among
college students. Three causes of rape—victim precipitation, male pathology,
and male hostility—varied as a function of the type of rape, with female
precipitation higher for partner and date rape than for acquaintance and
stranger rape. Male hostility and male pathology were lowest for partner
rape. These ﬁndings suggest that the perceived causes of rape that blame the
perpetrator or victim, rather than societal or general causes of rape, vary
with the type of rape. Recommended punishment varied directly with the
closeness of the relationship. Additionally, gender differences and interac-
tions of gender and ethnicity (Caucasian and Hispanics) were found across
type of rape.
The deﬁnition of rape (nonconsensual sexual penetration of an adolescent
or adult obtained by physical force, by threat of bodily harm, or when the
victim is incapable of giving consent by virtue of mental illness, mental
retardation, or intoxication (Searles & Berger, 1987) is not distinguished
by the degree and type of relationship between the rapist and the victim.
Until recently, however, acquaintance rape was not even deﬁned as a real
rape, or as a crime (Behhofer & Parrot, 1991). Yet the most common type
of rape is an acquaintance rape (Koss & Harvey, 1991; World Bank, 1993).
Acquaintance rape that involves some degree of relationship accounts for
between 80% and 90% of rapes. In Koss, Gidycz, and Wisnewski’s (1987)
study of over 3000 college women, 84% of the reported sexual assaults
were committed by persons known to the victim; 57% were dates. Date
and partner rapes are often called ‘‘hidden rapes’’ (Parrot & Bechholder,
1991; Warshaw, 1988) because they are less likely to be taken seriously or
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Psychology California State
University, San Bernardino, California 92407.
0360-0025/00/0500-0807$18.00/0 2000 Plenum Publishing Corporation