Comparisons of Rape Myth Acceptance Predictors Between Nonathletic and Athletes
From Multi-Institutional Settings
Navarro JC, Tewskbury R. 2017; Sexual Abuse. ahead
of print.
Take Home Message: Both
athletes and nonathletes report accepting some rape myths, and predictors about
these rape myths are different for each group.
myths are false beliefs about rape and those involved.  Athletes are commonly cited as perpetrators of
sexual violence on college campuses; however, little is known if different
demographic lifestyle and characteristics influence rape myth acceptance among
athletes and nonathletes. Therefore, the authors surveyed 624 nonathletes and
101 athletes from 21 U.S. Division I institutions (16 different states) using
the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale
to gauge the level of endorsement of rape myths during the spring 2015 academic
term. This survey consisted of 5 sub scales (“She asked for it.” “He didn’t
mean to,” “He didn’t mean to, intoxication question,” “It wasn’t really rape”),
which was graded on a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly agree, 5=strongly
disagree). Higher scores are associated with stronger rejection of rape myths. The
authors also collected demographic information (age, sex, race, grade point
average, religion, Greek membership, knowing a sexual assault victim, number of
drinks, and type of athletic participation). The nonathlete respondents were
mostly white (68%), females (66%), and were more involved in Greek life (18%)
compared to athletes (5%). Nonathletes were also more likely to report knowing
a rape victim (41% compared to athlete population reporting knowing ~37%).The
authors found that athletes and nonathletes were similar in the degree of rape
myth acceptance with an Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance score of ~85 and ~82,
respectively. However, athletes were more likely to report accepting “She asked
for it” based rape myths. Among nonathletes, several factors may influence a
person’s overall acceptance of rape myth (e.g., age, gender, GPA, religiosity,
knowing a victim). In contrast, knowing a victim of assault and not being a
part of Greek life predicted rape myth rejection among athletes.
athletes endorsed rape myths at a slightly greater level compared with nonathletes.
The authors also found that different factors were related with rape-myth acceptance
between athletes and nonathletes. Athletes are influenced by events that define
their social lifestyle, where demographic characteristics age, sex, race, GPA,
religion were predictors for nonathletes. It should be noted that schools were
selected based on personal and professional relationships with the criminal
justice/criminology and sociology professor at those schools. Therefore, many
of the respondents were social science majors, and may have understood these
rape myths better than the general college population, and could have biased
results. In general, there is still serious misconceptions about rape on these
college campuses. Therefore, colleges and universities should consider
implementing programs to advocate against these common rape misconceptions, and
encourage preventive techniques of sexual victimization. Additionally, medical
professionals, coaches, and athletes should encourage community involvement
like volunteering to expose their athletes to alternative experiences that may
help them understand these rape myths.
Question for
Discussion: What programs does your institution have to educate athletes about
rape myths? Do you feel athletic trainers should play a role in this education?
Written by: Jane McDevitt, PhD
by: Jeff Driban
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