Marital- and acquaintance-based rape myths

School of Human Sciences

Face and Voice Recognition Lab

Institute of Lifecourse Development

University of Greenwich

London

www.superrecognisers.com

super-recognisers@Greenwich.ac.uk

Twitter: @GRecognisers

Some of the students attached to the lab of Professor Josh P Davis conduct research on topics with a forensic slant and this is one. Participants on the University of Greenwich volunteer database will have volunteered for Experiment 2 of this project now published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Once again, we thank you for your help.


Osborn, K., Davis, J. P., Button, S., & Foster, J. (2021). Juror decision making in acquaintance and marital rape: The influence of clothing, alcohol, and pre-existing stereotypical attitudes. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(5-6), NP2675-NP2696. DOI: 10.1177/0886260518768566


Please find the free to download pre-print here.


Two mock-juror decision-making experiments were carried out. Participants read identical fictitious sexual assault vignettes varying in intoxicated defendant-complainant relationship (married / acquaintance), with accompanying photos of complainant clothing at crime (body revealing / plain) and in court (smart / casual). Experiment 2 also included a description of the defendant’s alcohol consumption (under or over the drink drive limit).


Our findings highlight how “rape myths” concerning marriages drive juror decisions, and prosecuting lawyers should use these results to better challenge such attitudes in court. Males appear to be more susceptible to rape myths than females, as in Experiment 2, significantly more guilty verdicts were delivered by females (80.3%) than males (66.9%).


Recommended prison sentence lengths were also significantly longer in acquaintance (M = 4.52 years) than married conditions (M = 4.10). Complainant’s choice of clothing and alcohol use also influence sentencing decisions in marital rape, but not in acquaintance rape.


Twenty-five years after the first successful prosecution for marital rape in UK courts, there is still evidence that members of the public, who may randomly be selected to serve as jurors, may differently appraise victims and defendants.


This paper has been available online to read since 2018 as an early view article, however, the journal has published it officially in a numbered volume for 2021.


First author Kirsty Osborn was a BSc Psychology student at the University of Greenwich (2013-2016) and this paper was derived from her final year project. Since graduating, Kirsty has returned to give careers advice lectures to psychology and criminology students at the University of Greenwich on becoming a forensic psychologist.


We have recently published another paper examining jury decision making and rape myths in the context of the notorious casting coach scenario, an open access article of which can be found here:


Mcintosh, S., & Davis, J. P. (2020). The ‘casting couch’ scenario: Impact of perceived employment benefit, reporting delay, complainant gender, and participant gender on juror decision-making in rape cases. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, DOI: 10.1177/0886260520966679


This project was part funded by an internal University of Greenwich grant to the last three authors:


Foster, J., Davis, J. P., & Button, S. (2015). Student drinking: Cross-sectional investigation of drinking trajectory and risky behaviours in students across academic year groups. University of Greenwich: Research Excellence Framework Funds 2015/16.



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