Sex Roles, Vol. 52, Nos. 5/6, March 2005 (
Rape Perception Differences Between Japanese
and American College Students: On the Mediating
Inﬂuence of Gender Role Traditionality
and Brian T. Tschanz
This study was designed to examine the differences in rape perceptions between Japanese
and American college students. It was found that the Japanese minimized the seriousness
of rapes, blamed the victims, and excused the rapists more than did the Americans. Cross-
cultural differences in the gender role traditionality (GRT) were found to mediate these dif-
ferences. GRT-mediated tendencies for increases in the intimacy between the victim and the
perpetrator to be associated with increases in rape minimization and victim blame were also
found. These latter tendencies were found to be greater among the Japanese than among
the Americans. Gender differences in rape perception were also found among the Japanese
KEY WORDS: rape; cross-culture; gender role traditionality.
Sexual assault is a common concern in most
societies (Rozee, 1993). Heise, Ellsberg, and
Gottemoeller (1999) reported that almost every soci-
ety in the world has social institutions that legitimize,
veil, and reject the existence of gendered abuse.
Rape and other forms of violence against women
may be the most prevalent yet least recognized
human rights issues in the world today.
Our foci of interests concerning sexual assault
and its personal and interpersonal correlates are on
others’ perceptions of the act of rape, its perpetra-
tors, and its victims. These perceptions are impor-
tant because they appear to represent a signiﬁcant
component of victims’ treatment and recovery pro-
cess. Research suggests that two-thirds of rape vic-
tims tell someone about their experience at some
point after the assault, and they tend to seek more
support from an informal social network (family and
friends) than from formal sources of assistance, such
Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University.
Department of Psychology, Utah State University.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of
Psychology, 1001 Kimball Tower, P.O. Box 25543, Provo, Utah
84602; e-mail: Niwako
as the police, members of the clergy, or mental health
professionals (Golding, Siegel, Sorenson, Burnam, &
Stein, 1989; Koss, Dinero, & Seibel, 1988). Emotional
support and other positive reactions from friends
have been found to be relatively strong predictors
of good adjustment to sexual assault (Ullman, 1996).
Conversely, negative social reactions, such as mini-
mizing an incident of sexual assault, blaming the vic-
tim for being raped, and excusing the rapist and his
actions, have been shown to be associated with in-
creased psychological distress, delayed recovery, and
poor perceptions of physical health (Ullman, 1996;
Ullman & Siegel, 1995). Rape victims may, there-
fore, suffer not only from the actual assault but also
from others’ negative reactions to their experience.
It, thus, appears to be vital to examine what factors
inﬂuence individuals’ perceptions of and attitudes to-
ward the act of rape, its perpetrators, and its victims.
One factor that may inﬂuence these perceptions
and attitudes is culture. Burt’s (1980) pioneering
work on rape myths, indeed, implies that these per-
ceptions and attitudes should be different in cultures
in which rape myths and related attitudes and beliefs
are widely accepted than they are in cultures in which
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.