Factors That Influence Rape Myths Acceptance in the United Kingdom and Cyprus

  • Cleopatra Sazou

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: Several feminists, including sociologists Julia and Herman Schwendinger, introduced the first definition of rape myths during the 1970s. Rape myths consist of misleading stereotypes that seek to make the offender appear innocent and blame the survivor. In 1974, Brownmiller identified rape myths as being representative of most pseudo-scientific investigations into women's sexuality, including being frequently quoted by investigators who are not specialists in this subject. These myths hide the actual existence of rape. It is therefore vital to consider why such myths exist, despite several societies seeking to decrease the incidence of rape, provide unbiased juries, and increase women's inclusion in society.

Aim: This research examines the factors impacting the acceptance of rape myths in the United Kingdom and Cypriot population, including a comparison of the differences and similarities between these two cultures.

Methodology: This study employed a questionnaire with 204 Greek Cypriots and 305 British participants, to assess the various factors impacting on the acceptance of rape myths. The researcher employed a number of scales, including: firstly, a self-made demographic questionnaire; secondly the updated Illinois Rape Myths Acceptance Scale (uIRMAS); thirdly, the Attitudes Towards Women Scale (AWS); fourthly, the Attitudes towards Rape Victims Scale (ARVS) ; fifthly, the fifty-item IPIP Version of the Big Five (Personality) scale; sixthly, the Buss and Perry (Aggression) scale; seventhly, Religion; eighthly, the Just World Belief (JWB) Scale; and finally, the Double Standards Scale (DSS).

Findings: The results reveal that a proportion of the analysed variables tend to influence the acceptance of rape myths. In addition, the research identified a divergence between the two populations being considered, with the most significant observation being that Greek-Cypriot females demonstrated more prominent levels of support for rape myths than Greek-Cypriot males and British participants. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for theory, measurement, future research, and potential interventions.

Conclusion: Rape remains one of the most common crimes worldwide and is currently proliferating, while at the same time there appears to be a reduction in the prosecution of offenders. RMA plays a role in how rape is viewed in differing cultures, including influencing the decision-making of judges and police officers. The existing research includes many gaps and limitations, indicating an urgent need for further investigation of this issue. This current study, despite a few limitations, offers a more comprehensive and holistic picture of multiple factors influencing the acceptance of rape myths. Moreover, this thesis also addresses the acceptance of rape myths in Cyprus, a country in which this topic has, to date, been awarded little attention.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMaria Ioannou (Co-Supervisor) & John Synnott (Co-Supervisor)

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