Cognitive distortions are often referred to as attitudes toward rape in theory, research, and clinical practice pertaining to sexual aggression. In the social-psychological literature, however, attitudes are typically defined as evaluations; thus, in this context, attitudes toward rape are considered evaluations of rape (e.g., rape is negative vs. positive). The purpose of the current study was to explore whether a widely used measure of cognitive distortions (RAPE Scale; Bumby, 1996) assesses evaluation of rape, and, if not, whether evaluation of rape and the cognitions assessed by the RAPE Scale are independently associated with sexually aggressive behavior. Participants (660 male undergraduate students) completed the RAPE Scale as well as measures of evaluation of rape and sexually aggressive behavior. An exploratory factor analysis revealed that the RAPE Scale items formed a correlated but distinct factor from the Evaluation of Rape Scale items. Regression analyses indicated that the Evaluation of Rape Scale and the RAPE Scale had small to moderate independent associations with self-report measures of sexually aggressive behavior. Our results suggest that evaluation of rape may be distinct from cognitive distortions regarding rape, and both evaluation and cognitive distortions may be relevant for understanding sexual violence.

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Keywords attitudes, cognitive distortions, factor analysis, rape, sexual aggression
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Journal Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment
Nunes, K, Hermann, C.A. (Chantal A.), White, K. (Kristen), Pettersen, C. (Cathrine), & Bumby, K. (Kurt). (2018). Attitude May Be Everything, But Is Everything an Attitude? Cognitive Distortions May Not Be Evaluations of Rape. Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment, 30(1), 43–62. doi:10.1177/1079063215625489