Victim Attributions and Post-Rape Trauma

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This study assessed (a) the kinds of attributions victims make, (b) whether behavioral and characterological self-blame are associated with other variables as hypothesized (e.g., perception of future avoidability of being raped), and (c) whether behavioral self-blame is associated with better post-rape adjustment (Janoff-Bulman, 1979). Attributions and adjustment were assessed in a sample of adult female rape victims seen at a hospital-based rape crisis program. Many victims blamed themselves but tended to place more blame on external factors. The pattern of relations between behavioral and characterological self-blame and other attributional measures did not support the hypothesized distinctions between them. Both kinds of self-blame were significantly associated with increased post-rape depression (all ps <.05). Attributions strongly predicted adjustment, accounting for up to 67% of the variance in 3-day post-rape depression. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-304
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1990


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