The effects of gender on decisions of guilt in cases of alleged child sexual abuse


This study investigated the potential effects that participant gender, alleged perpetrator gender and child gender have on the decision making process in potential cases of child sexual abuse. Two hundred and twenty-four (224) college students rated a series of vignettes of alleged child sexual abuse on the degree to which they believed the perpetrator was innocent or guilty using a visual analog scale. Vignettes involving a teacher, an adult neighbor and an ex-spouse (a parent) were varied to reflect the possible gender combinations of child and perpetrator. Results indicated that females rated all cases as more suspicious than did males and both male and female raters were more suspicious of alleged male perpetrators than they were of alleged female perpetrators. Furthermore, results indicate that ratings were affected by the combinations of perpetrator and victim gender, as well as by the specific type of vignette being rated. Results also point to the possibility that raters used information related to sexual orientation when making judgments of potential guilt.



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American Journal of Forensic Psychology