Descriptive versus Injunctive Norms in Reducing Rape Myths: A survey study

Jaeger, Lauren
Sexual assault is an unfortunately prevalent devastating crime, leaving victims with a range of physical and emotional injuries. In an effort to decrease the occurrence of sexual assault, researchers and university personnel have developed prevention and risk reduction programs on college campuses. Though important efforts, the results of these programs have been mixed. Some evidence suggests that individuals who endorse rape myths (i.e., endorse rape supportive beliefs and victim blaming attitudes) overestimate the degree to which their opinions are shared by others. Because most individuals disavow such notions, it is believed that providing individuals with corrective information about normative behavior and beliefs will be helpful in challenging such opinions. This investigation directly compared two types of norms (descriptive and injunctive) to evaluate the comparative efficacy of each approach. Participants endorsing rape myths in a previously administered survey study were randomly assigned to normative information conditions and impact on rape myth acceptance immediately and one week later was assessed. Preliminary analyses suggest that attitude changes were sustained at a higher rate in individuals who were exposed to both descriptive and injunctive norms.
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University of Wyoming Libraries