This study examined empathy for a hypothetical rape victim and perpetrator based on gender of victim, perpetrator and participant, and sexual aggression experience. Undergraduates (n = 591, 333 female) from a United States east coast mid-size public university completed the Rape Victim and Perpetrator Empathy Scales (victim and perpetrator gender experimentally varied), and the Sexual Experiences Survey. Hypotheses were partially supported. Empathy was greater with the victim of a man than a woman. Women with victimization experience were especially empathic with a female victim. Men without victimization experience were relatively non-empathic with a male victim. Empathy was greater with a female than a male perpetrator, especially when her victim was male or when reported by women. A male rapist received the greatest empathy from men with perpetration experience. Findings are consistent with cultural expectations that women are victims and men are aggressors, and may imply that similarity in experience can facilitate rape empathy.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 16, 2011
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