What is the Psychological Appeal of the Serial Rapist Model? Worldviews Predicting Endorsement
Behavioral Public Policy, 2018
38 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 1, 2018
The serial rapist model (Lisak, 2011) claims that a small number of intentional, repeat offenders are responsible for the majority of sexual assaults on college campuses. The model has formed the dominant argument for some of the most popular forms of campus intervention programs and is cited by high profile advocates and policymakers. Despite enthusiasm for the serial rapist model, it is not empirically well-supported and is contradicted by recent robust data. In this paper we ask: why does the serial rapist model have such broad and enduring appeal? In two US-based samples, one convenience and one representative, we find that people’s endorsement of the serial rapist model correlates with worldviews that cohere around ideas of a just and good status quo, and a preference for simple stories. Specifically, we find a positive relationship between endorsement of the serial rapist model and belief in a just world, system justification, social dominance orientation, need for closure, and essentialism.
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