Victim age, attractiveness and abuse history as factors in the perception of a hypothetical child sexual abuse case

Paul Rogers, Natalie Josey, Michelle Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the effect of victim age, victim attractiveness, the victim's abuse history and respondent gender have on attributions of blame and credibility towards a female victim in a hypothetical child sexual abuse case. A total of 397 respondents from a community sample read a hypothetical child sexual abuse (CSA) scenario in which victim age, victim attractiveness and the victim's abuse history were manipulated. Respondents then completed a 16-item blame attribution questionnaire. Several predictions were made. First, a 10-year-old victim would be deemed less blameworthy and more credible than a 15-year-old victim. Secondly, an attractive victim would be viewed more positively, and attributed less blame, than an unattractive victim. Thirdly, a victim with previous history of being sexual abused--either by the same or different perpetrators--would be deemed more culpable for their own CSA than a first time victims. Finally, female respondents were expected to take a more pro-victim and anti-perpetrator stance than males. Whilst comparatively few differences were found across victim attractiveness and abuse history. Overall findings were broadly in line with predictions. It was concluded that victim age and respondent gender play particularly important roles in the attribution of blame towards victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-137
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sexual Aggression
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2007


  • victim age
  • attractiveness
  • abuse history
  • hypothetical child sexual abuse case
  • perpetrators
  • Child Abuse
  • Crime Victims
  • Physical Attractiveness
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Credibility
  • Patient History
  • Perpetrators
  • Sexual Attraction


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