Impact of moral judgment and moral disengagement on rape-supportive attitudes in college males

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University of Alabama Libraries

Sexual aggression and, more specifically, non-stranger sexual assault, commonly referred to as date rape, has been documented as a serious problem on college campuses for at least three decades (Fezzani & Benshoff, 2003). Current research shows that college fraternity men are more likely to rape or sexually assault college women than non-fraternity men (Bohmer & Parrot, 1993; Boumil, Friedman, & Taylor, 1993; Sanday, 1990). This study supplemented the existing explanations for high incidence of sexual assault by confirming a hypothesized model to explain rape-supportive attitudes in fraternity males. Specifically, this study hypothesized a model in which moral disengagement and moral judgment explained the rape-supportive attitudes of fraternity members. The Moral Disengagement Scale, Defining Issues Test-2, and Sexual Assault Vignette were administered in a cross-sectional study to undergraduate fraternity (N=66) and non-fraternity males (N=134). Preliminary analysis indicated that fraternity men were significantly higher than non-fraternity men on moral disengagement (t (198) = 12.27, p<.05, d = 1.7), lower on measures of moral judgment (t (198) = 3.85, p<.05, d = .58) and higher on measures of rape-supportive attitudes (t (198) = -5.10, p<.05, d=-.74). The path analysis indicated that there were significant relationships between the variables in the hypothesized model, and a t-test for parallelism indicated that there were significant differences in the paths for fraternity and non-fraternity men. The relations among constructs and significant differences in scores indicate that future research on ethical interventions should be explored.

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Education, Educational Psychology, Developmental psychology, Social psychology