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Expectancy Violation and Perceptions of Rape Victim Credibility

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 13 Issue: Part 2 Dated: September 2008 Pages: 323-334
Louisa Hackett; Andrew Day; Philip Mohr
Date Published
September 2008
12 pages
This study examined credibility judgments of rape victims based on emotional expressiveness.
Results reveal no significant main effect of emotional expressiveness on perceptions of credibility. However, among participants with a strong expectation of emotional expressiveness, a rape victim who was emotionally expressive was perceived to be significantly more credible than a victim who was not emotionally expressive. It appeared to be expectancy violation rather than emotional expressiveness per se that biased observers' perceptions of rape victim credibility. It is noted that rape victims have been found to have a heightened risk of secondary victimization in the legal system through biased perceptions of their credibility. In this study, participants observed a video of a rape victim reporting the crime and evaluated her credibility, to establish the influence of victim emotional expressiveness on evaluations of victim credibility. The participants were randomly allocated to observe a videotape of either an expressive or a nonexpressive victim. Additionally, participants' specific expectations about the emotional expressiveness of rape victims in general were also measured. The nonverbal (eye-contact, crying) and paralinguistic (tone of voice) behavior of the rape victim was manipulated such that the emotional presentation viewed by observers was either expressive, or not expressive. Data were derived from a group of 137 undergraduate psychology students at the Magill campus of the University of South Australia. Tables, figure, and references