Famous or infamous? The influence of celebrity status and race on perceptions of responsibility for rape

Jennifer L. Knight, Traci A. Giuliano, Monica Sanchez Shields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although an extensive literature has explored the effects of race, socioeconomic status, and attractiveness on perceptions of rape defendants, few studies have considered the influence of celebrity status (and its potential interaction with race) on people's perceptions of events related to rape. As part of a 2 × 2 between-subjects design, 71 undergraduates (32 men, 39 women) read a fictitious newspaper account of an alleged rape that varied the defendant's race (Black or White) and celebrity status (famous or nonfamous), and they were then asked to make judgments in response to the event. As predicted, being a celebrity had distinct advantages for White defendants, whereas for Black defendants, being a celebrity was a liability. This apparent backlash against Black celebrities is consistent with aversive racism theory (Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986), which proposes that although most people today are not openly racist, a subtle form of prejudice appears when people feel safe to express it and when they can justify their feelings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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