Social psychological aspects of rape: a study of recorded rape and images of rape victimisation

  • Patricia M. Mazelan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is organised into four parts. In Part 1 relevant literature is reviewed and presented in three chapters. Chapter 1 examines legal and cultural factors in identifying the. boundaries of rape. Chapter 2 discusses idiographic features· and causal characteristics of rape suspects and victims. Chapter 3 reviews the evidence relating to attitudes toward rape,. attribution of responsibility to victims and the routine management of rape cases by the police.
Part II comprises an experimental investigation of observer perception of the victims of violent crime. The experiment, examined the processes by which impressions were attributed to victims of personal crime. The results suggested that discrepancies from observers' stereotypes were an important factor in their polarisation of victim ratings. The relevance of. examining . both the structure and process of' impression, formation was highlighted.
Part III describes an extensive field study in which the West. Midlands police files on rape for an eight year period (1071-1978) were analysed. The study revealed a large number of interesting findings related to a wide range of relevant features of the crime. Further, the impact .of common misconceptions and "myths" of rape were investigated across the legal and judicial processing
of rape cases. The evidence suggests that these "myths" lead·to differential biasing effects at different stages in the process.
In the final part of this thesis,. salient issues raised by the experiment and field study .are discussed·within the framework outlined in Part 1. Potential implications for future developments and research: are presented.
Date of AwardJul 1984
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorW.G. Cumberbatch (Supervisor)


  • rape
  • victimisation
  • stereotypes
  • legal processing

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