Undergraduate Psychology Research Methods Journal


The purpose of the present study was to determine if there were significant differences in how college students perceive culpability for sexual harassment victims as a result of varying victim race (e.g. African-American and Caucasian) and attire (e.g. revealing attire and non-revealing attire), a perceived indicator of promiscuity. The hypothesis was that participants would perceive the African-American sexual harassment victim wearing revealing attire as more culpable than the African-American victim wearing non-revealing attire, the Caucasian victim wearing revealing attire, and the Caucasian victim wearing non-revealing attire The present study was a 2 (Race) x 2 (Attire) within-participants design that included four target vignettes, which differed according to sexual harassment victim race and attire, four filler vignettes, which differed according to bullying victim race and attire and distracted from the true purpose of the experiment, and a nine-item victim culpability survey. The results of this study indicate that there were no significant differences in ratings of victim culpability for African-American victims wearing revealing attire and Caucasian victims wearing revealing attire. However, there was a significant difference in the ratings of victim culpability for victims wearing revealing attire, regardless of race, such that victims wearing revealing attire were rated as more culpable than victims wearing non-revealing attire. These findings have large implications for college students experiencing and responding to sexual harassment complaints from peers.

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