Rape Myth Acceptance is Lower and Predicts Harsher Evaluations of Rape Among Impacted People


  • Boglárka Nyúl
  • Hadi Sam Nariman
  • Mónika Szabó
  • Dávid Ferenczy
  • Anna Kende


Public reactions to rape are often distorted by the acceptance of so-called rape myths. The goal of our research was to examine how rape myth acceptance (RMA) is connected to the evaluation of rape cases among survivors, unimpacted people, and those impacted by rape through a close relation, who can potentially be important allies of survivors in bringing about social change. We tested these connections in three online survey studies. In Study 1 (N = 758) we found that those impacted by rape personally or through a close relation accepted rape myths less. In Study 2, using a nationally representative sample in Hungary (N = 1007), we tested whether RMA predicted uncertain rape cases more strongly than certain (i.e., stereotypical) ones, considering that a stereotypical rape scenario is condemned by most members of society, but not all rape is labeled as such. We found that RMA predicted the evaluation of both rape scenarios, but the prediction was stronger when rape was uncertain. In Study 3 (N = 384), in a pre-registered study we examined how RMA predicted the evaluation of rape cases amongst people with different previous experiences (impacted/unimpacted). We found that unimpacted people accepted rape myths more, blamed the victim more and labeled the case less as rape when the case was uncertain. These findings suggest that rape myth acceptance functions as cognitive schema and that rape impacted people could have a key role not only in the life of survivors but as allies for social change as well.