Honors Senior Theses/Projects
The Linguistics of Sexual Assault: How the Dissonance of Individuals’ Perpetrator Expectations and The Ordering of Information Effects Perceptions of Sexual Assault
Date of Award
Undergraduate Honors Thesis/Project
Honors Program Director
Dr. Gavin Keulks
This study was an investigation into the framing of sexual assault cases and how media may sway the opinions of the public through their choice use of language to describe the case. Most commonly we see stories present victims’ irresponsibility along with characteristics of the perpetrator that are inconsistent with societal stereotypes of assaulters. This may influence the public's perceptions of justice and accuracy of the statements made about the crime. The researcher hypothesized that by using paradoxical language around the assaulter and ordering information so victim’s irresponsibility is presented first, there would be lower perceived perpetrator responsibility responses. Participants for this study included seventy undergraduate students at a mid-sized university in the pacific northwest. In Condition A, participants read an article where victims irresponsibility was presented first and included paradoxical language surrounding the perpetrator. In Condition B, the case was presented so that victim testimony and evidence was presented first and lacked any language about the perpetrator’s life outside of the reported assault. After reading one of these framings of the same assault, participants took a short survey designed on a Likert scale to examine perceived perpetrator and victim responsibility along with perceived accuracy and justice of the case. Two of the presented fifteen questions yielded statistical significance.
Boegli, Magen, "The Linguistics of Sexual Assault: How the Dissonance of Individuals’ Perpetrator Expectations and The Ordering of Information Effects Perceptions of Sexual Assault" (2020). Honors Senior Theses/Projects. 205.
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