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Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] PP165-339970 July 20, 2001 11:11 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2001 (
Hostility Toward Women and Victim
Empathy in Rapists
W. L. Marshall
and Heather Moulden
The present studyexaminedempathy and hostility toward womenamong 32rapists,
28 nonsex offenders, and 40 nonoffender males. Results indicated that rapists were
signiﬁcantly less empathic than either of the other two groups toward women who
had been sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant. They were also signiﬁcantly
less empathic toward their own victims than toward any other women, and they
were markedly more hostile toward women than were the other subjects. Finally,
among the rapists, hostility toward women was signiﬁcantly negatively related to
their empathy toward their own victims.
KEY WORDS: hostility; empathy; rapists; distortions.
A propensity for sexual aggression among males who have not been identiﬁed
as sexual offenders has been shown to be signiﬁcantly related to their acceptance
of hostility toward women (Check, 1984; Malamuth, Check, & Briere, 1986). Not
surprisingly, rapists have also been shown to score high on measures of hostility
toward women (Holmstorm & Burgess, 1980; Marshall & Hambley, 1996; Rice,
Chaplin, Harris, & Coutts, 1994). The inference typically drawn from these obser-
vations is that this hostility generates a signiﬁcant component of the motivation of
some males to sexually aggress against women. However, in the studies of nonof-
fending men, what has been observed is a propensity to rape rather than an actual
history of rape. If indeed these men have not raped and yet are hostile toward
women, then some other factor, or factors, must constrain their tendency to rape.
Empathy has been found to act as a mediator of prosocial behavior (Feshback,
1987; Moore, 1990) by facilitating positive responses toward others and by in-
hibiting, or terminating, aggression toward others (Miller & Eisenberg, 1988).
Department of Psychology, Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Psychology, Queen’s University,
Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6.
2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation