Protective Factors Against Rape Perpetration: Towards a Strength-Based Approach in Risk Assessment and Prevention of Rape

01 November 2021 → 31 October 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Social perception and cognition
    • Causes and prevention of crime
    • Correctional theory, offender treatment and rehabilitation
Sexual violence experimental criminology risk assessment
Project description

Research on rape perpetration has mainly focused on risk factors while knowledge on protective factors remains limited. This knowledge is needed to fully understand this risk and advance promising strength-based approaches. Malamuth’s Confluence Model predicts sexual aggression with the interaction of hostile masculinity and impersonal sex. With this project, I will extend this model with protective factors to obtain a more comprehensive model to predict rape perpetration. These factors are: 1) positive consent attitudes as these are at the core of consensual sexual relations, and 2) anti-rape attitudes to tackle rape myths which are prevalent and strongly linked to rape perpetration. In addition, empathy is an important factor because it buffers the effect of risk factors and is expected to strengthen the effect of the proposed protective factors. Using Structural Equation Modelling, I will assess how the different risk and protective factors relate to each other and to self-reported rape proclivity. Furthermore, I will conduct two experimental studies using a classic cognition research paradigm: the repetition-based truth effect. Research has shown that the repeated exposure to statements increases their perceived validity. I will use this effect to convey anti-rape statements to strengthen anti-rape and positive consent attitudes which is expected to result in lower rape proclivity.