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Cynthia J. Najdowski:

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Feminist writers contend that Americans live in a culture that supports sexualized aggression and violence against women. This “rape culture” is reflected in our society by the pervasive endorsement of rape myths and sexual objectification of women, both of which are legitimized by everyday media. One potential consequence of living in a rape culture is that individuals may themselves come to endorse rape myths and sexually objectify women, and, in turn, perceive certain forms of sexual violence against women as defensible. This is concerning considering the significant role that laypeople play in administering justice in sexual assault cases, but research has yet to consider the impact rape culture may have on juror decision making. We review the concept of rape culture, explain the psychological process by which rape culture might influence juror decision making in sexual assault trials, review evidence for our hypotheses from the extant literature, and, finally, discuss future research directions and potential policy implications.


This is the Author's Accepted Manuscript. The Version of Record can be found here: Hildebrand, M. M., & Najdowski, C. J. (2015). The potential impact of rape culture on juror decision making: Implications for wrongful acquittals in sexual assault trials. Albany Law Review, 78, 1059-1086.



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