Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Cheryl Terrance


Sexual assault is one of the most prevalent but under-reported crimes in the United States and sexual assaults are even more common on college campuses (RAINN, 2016). Although both laws and campus student policies may be violated, very few perpetrators are ultimately punished (Lonsway & Archambault, 2012). Lack of investigation and prosecution of these cases may in part arise out of myths surrounding sexual assault. These myths may be challenged when scientific evidence is presented. Whether such evidence can undermine myths and prototypical notions of a sexual assault victim remains equivocal. To this end, the current study employed a 2 (victim prototypicality: prototypical vs. non-prototypical) x 3 (educational evidence: basic vs. neurobiological vs. control) between subjects design. Serving as members of a “university committee,” participants read one of two sexual assault police reports that varied the prototypicality of the victim: prototypical or non-prototypical. Within the victim prototypicality condition, participants viewed one of three educational evidence videos: basic, neurobiological, or control. Overall, less blame was attributed to the victim when she was presented as prototypical or when educational evidence was imparted. Interestingly, a three-way interaction emerged such that men’s perceptions of the victim and offender were more likely to be impacted by watching an educational video as opposed to a control when presented with a non-prototypical victim. Implications of these findings were discussed.