Winning and Losing and the Effect on Rape Empathy

Document Type


Publication Date



Political Science


Previous research has found that being successful increases your sense of power, which in turn, increases aggression, egocentricity, and a lack of empathy for others (Robertson, 2012; Piff, 2012; Verbruggen et al., 2017) This research project examines if this same phenomenon happens around sexual assault. Specifically, the study seeks to understand how winning or losing can impact attitudes around sexual assault. We hypothesize that winning or losing will affect perceptions of victims of sexual assault; in particular, we argue that winning will be associated with higher rates of victim-blaming and lower rates of rape empathy. To test this, we utilize a quasi-experimental design whereby participants play 10 hands of a manipulated game of 21 where they are predetermined if they will win or lose. Participants will be led to believe they can win or lose money based on winning or losing. After participating in this pre-programmed game, individuals read a series of vignette depicting a sexual assault and complete a set of scales assessing their level rape myth acceptance and rape empathy. We hypothesis that winners will have lower rape empathy and great rape myth acceptance. Our experimental design controls for sex as research shows that sex is the largest predictors of rape empathy and myth acceptance (Diamond-Welch et al., 2017; Diamond-Welch, Hellwege, & Mann, 2018; Gravelin, Biernat, & Bucher, 2018). Research has not been completed at this time; therefore. no conclusions can be drawn at this point.

First Advisor

Bridget Diamond-Welch

Research Area

Political Science

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