The Influence of Moral Intuitions on Americans’ Divergent Reactions to Reports of Sexual Assault and Harassment

Eric Silver, Stacy Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Drawing on insights from moral psychology, we examine the influence of moral intuitions on Americans’ divergent reactions to reports of sexual assault and harassment. We hypothesize that Americans whose moral intuitions emphasize care and protection of the vulnerable will show a greater willingness to believe reports of sexual assault and harassment, while those whose moral intuitions emphasize social order and cohesion will show greater skepticism toward such reports. Using data from a nationally representative sample of USA adults (N =1050), we find strong support for both hypotheses. We also find that the influence of moral intuitions on reactions to reports of sexual assault and harassment is partially mediated by respondents’ willingness to attribute responsibility to victims of sex crimes. Our results hold when females and males are examined separately. The study provides compelling evidence that a moral intuitionist approach is useful for understanding Americans’ divergent reactions to reports of sexual assault and harassment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

Cite this