School of Human Sciences
Face and Voice Recognition Lab
Institute of Lifecourse Development
University of Greenwich
10 May 2022
The Casting Couch: Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Shona Mcintosh (ex-MSc Psychology, Conversion) and Prof. Josh Davis (supervisor)
It is good to see this research properly published in a volume of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. It has taken a few years. It was first conceived in the late autumn of 2017, at the height of the #MeToo movement. The media were reporting on the emerging accusations that Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein, had committed multiple acts of sexual assault and rape (he was sacked from his company in October 2017). The data were collected over the summer of 2018. Weinstein was convicted in 2020, a few months after the initial version of this article was submitted for publication in 2019.
The article is open access and therefore free to download.
Mcintosh, S., & Davis, J. P. (2022). 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, 37(9-10), NP6676–NP6696. DOI: 10.1177/0886260520966679
Thanks to Katy Weatherly and Bethan Burnside (Research Assistants) for help with recruitment and project construction on Qualtrics. Thanks also to the 907 members of the Face and Voice Recognition Lab volunteer participant pool who completed the research during the summer of 2018. The abstract is below.
As can be seen, we found significant effects in relation to the gender of the complainant that were linked to the impact of rape myths and homophobic attitudes. The impact of the complainant delaying reporting the alleged offence to the police and whether the complainant secured the acting role or not also weakly impacted outcomes. However, regardless of condition, by far and away the most powerful significant effects were that male mock-jurors (62.7%) were significantly less likely to deliver a guilty verdict than females (79.7%).
These gender-based percentage differences are some of the largest we have found in our lab with similar research. They perhaps reflect the rapidly growing awareness by women that their own extremely negative experiences were familiar to so many others. The data also suggest that at that time, the same message had not been so readily absorbed by men.
I might see if I can recruit BSc or MSc students to replicate this study in 2022-2023, in order to assess whether attitudes have changed.
Recent legal and media reports of contemporary and historical rape and sexual assault cases have focused on the entertainment industry, particularly around the notion of the “casting couch.” This scenario, in which a powerful figure obtains sometimes non-consensual sexual acts from subordinate actors in exchange for employment, was used to explore the influence of rape myths and Sexual Economics Theory on mock-juror decision-making. Participant-jurors (n = 907) viewed video and written testimony of a complainant, accusing a male producer of rape. Complainant gender (male, female), delay before reporting the incident to the police (immediately, 6 months, 10 years), and complainant casting in the production were randomly varied (acting role secured, not secured). The strongest effects were that females (79.7%) were significantly more likely than males (62.7%) to deliver a guilty verdict and to recommend longer prison sentences for the offence. When the complainant did not secure the acting role, and they delayed reporting the incident for six months, there was an interaction between complainant gender and verdict. No interacting complainant gender effects on trial outcomes were found in the other delay conditions, or when the actor secured employment. Defendant guilt attributions to the male and female complainant were also differently influenced by rape myth belief levels and homophobic attitudes, but not beliefs in a just world. The casting couch euphemism, reported worldwide, suggests industry acceptance, and may sanitize the act of demanding sex and even committing rape. However, these results have important implications for any occupational setting in which men in positions of power may sexually exploit junior staff.
Interested in this research area?
Please see here for another free to download forensic psychology-based research project carried out by one of Professor Josh P Davis’ students, Kirsty Osborn. This was also published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence:
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