Title

The Relationship between Undergraduates' Rape Empathy and their Self-Reported Likelihood of Raping, Sexual Experiences, and Demographics

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2012

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Katharine Hill

Abstract

The present study explored the need for empathy-based rape prevention programs on college campuses by investigating the following research question: What is the relationship between undergraduates’ empathy for rape victims and their self-reported likelihood of raping, the gender of the rape victim, their past sexual experiences, and their demographics? The design of the present study was a cross-sectional, quantitative study in which participants completed an online questionnaire. The present study found that participants at low risk of forcing sex empathized more with rape victims than those at high risk for forcing sex; however, there was not a significant difference between participants who were at low risk and those at high risk of raping with regard to their rape empathy. Additionally, the results suggest that undergraduates may empathize more with rape victims of their own gender. Furthermore, as the severity of participants’ sexual perpetration experiences increased, their empathy for rape victims decreased significantly; however, there was not a significant relationship between participants’ sexual victimization experiences and their rape empathy. Finally, the present study found that female participants empathize more with rape victims than male participants; however, there were not many statistically significant differences between the other demographic groups on their rape empathy. Future social work research should continue exploring undergraduates’ rape empathy. Additionally, future social work practice should incorporate rape prevention programs that focus on increasing participants’ empathy for both male and female rape victims, as the results of this study and of other studies suggest that men and women may empathize more with rape victims of their own gender.

Keywords

rape empathy, rape, prevention, sexual assault

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.