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Blame attributions in sexual crimes: Effects of belief in a just world and victim behavior

Journal article
Authors Sara Landström
Leif Strömwall
Helen Alfredsson
Published in Nordic Psychology
Volume 68
Issue 1
Pages 2-11
ISSN 1901-2276
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 2-11
Language en
Keywords victim blame, perpetrator blame, victim behavior, belief in a just word, secondary victimization
Subject categories Psychology, Applied Psychology


Previous research has consistently shown that rape victims may be blamed for the assault but little is known about victim blaming in other sexual crimes. In the present experiment, we examined blame attributions for sexual assault and online sexual harassment. The study also investigated the effects of victim behavior, participants' belief in a just world, and participant gender on attributions of both victim and perpetrator blame. A vignette methodology was employed and a community sample (N = 200) answered questions of victim and perpetrator blame after reading one of four different scenarios (which manipulated crime type and victim behavior). Crime type and victim behavior affected participants blame attributions: the participants attributed least blame to the non-flirtatious sexual assault victim and most blame was attributed to the flirtatious sexual harassment victim. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.

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