Year of Publication



Arts and Sciences



Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Political Science

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Golding


Approximately 10-15% of American women will be raped by a spouse in their lifetime (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002). Research suggests that the American public regards spousal rape as wrong but not rape (Lynch et al., 2017). Research on spousal rape has centered on heterosexual couples despite a higher likelihood that LGBTQ+ individuals will experience severe intimate partner violence (IPV) (Rollé et al., 2019). Therefore, the present study investigated mock juror perceptions of spousal rape of heterosexual and same-sex couples in the courtroom. We employed a 2 (victim gender) x 2 (defendant gender) x 2 (participant gender) between-participants design. Participants were asked to read a vignette about a spousal rape trial, render a verdict of guilty or not guilty, and rate variables related to the case (e.g., severity of the crime). There were two hypotheses for this study: We predicted a main effect of participant gender in that women would be more pro-victim (e.g., higher blame ratings) than men (Gerber et al. 2006; Golding et al., 2016; Wasarhaley et al, 2017). There was support for this hypothesis. Women blamed the defendant more than men. We also predicted a main effect on political orientation such that liberal participants will be more likely to render pro-victim judgements (for example, rate the victim as more moral), than conservative participants (Graf, 2018; Kurtzleben, 2017). There was support for this hypothesis. Liberal participants rendered more guilty verdicts than conservative participants. Exploratory analyses found that differences between heterosexual and same-sex spousal rape generally did not emerge.