Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Karyn Plumm


The present study examined public perceptions of and willingness to provide social support to survivors of sexual assault presenting with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) based on the survivor’s gender (male vs. female), psychotherapy treatment-seeking status (no treatment vs. dropped out after four sessions vs. still in treatment), and participant gender (male vs. female). Participants (n = 178) read one of six vignettes based on a 2 (gender of survivor of sexual assault: male vs. female) X 3 (treatment-seeking status: no treatment vs. dropped out of treatment after four sessions vs. still in treatment) factorial design describing the life circumstances and PTSD symptoms of a survivor who had been sexually assaulted six months prior; they then completed manipulation check and perceptions, social support, and demographics questionnaires. Results indicated that male participants were significantly more likely than female participants to demonstrate negative social reactions (i.e., blaming the victim, treating the survivor differently, attempting to control the survivor’s actions, encouraging distraction as a means of coping, and focusing on their own needs rather than the survivor’s), and female participants were significantly more likely than male participants to demonstrate positive social reactions (i.e., providing emotional support/belief and practical support) after the survivor was sexually assaulted. Results also suggested that survivors who were described as “still in treatment” were perceived more positively, and participants were significantly less likely to attempt to control their actions and decisions compared to survivors described as not having sought treatment or having dropped out of therapy after four sessions. Implications are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons