A drug addict, a model and an engineer walk into a bar
Victim dehumanization and violations of sexual consent.
The amount of humanness that we ascribe to others is influenced by a variety of factors, including demographic variables and other personal level information such as their social class, age and cognitive capabilities. Humanization has been shown to influence the severity of our reactions to violence directed at others and influence our judgements of the violator’s thoughts, motives and actions as well as victim responsibility and deservingness to be protected (Bastian et al. 2011). Within the context of sexual encounters, we also form impressions of the people involved, where the humanness ascribed to each person could affect perceptions of the encounters.
Participants read two stories describing non-consensual sexual encounters. Two male characters were created, one for each story. Eight female character profiles encompassing a range of victim profiles that varied in age, occupation, social classes and other demographics were created. These profiles were also manipulated in a particular way to encourage a more or less humanized impression. Female profiles were crossed with each story, and participants saw both males and two of the females. Participants then responded to a set of open- and close-ended questions which assessed the agreement with a set of statements to determine their perceived level of consensuality of the interaction, moral outrage by the male’s violation, severity of legal wrongness, and severity of punishment deserved for the actions read about.
This presentation will discuss how victim variables and our construal of them, including age, occupation, perceived coldness and intelligence, influence reactions to non-consensual sexual encounters.
Faculty Mentor: Aimee Skye
Department: Psychology (Honours)