Evolutionary theorists have argued that perceived competitive disadvantage may lead to more positive evaluation of, and greater likelihood of engaging in, risky and antisocial behavior. However, experimental studies have not yet examined the effects of competitive disadvantage on perceptions of rape. In the current study, we created a manipulation of perceived competitive status to test its effects on beliefs about rape. In one condition, participants were made to feel disadvantaged relative to male peers in terms of financial, physical, and intellectual power, whereas in the other condition they were made to feel advantaged. Participants were 120 heterosexual male undergraduate students. The manipulation was effective; compared to participants in the advantage condition, those in the disadvantage condition rated themselves as significantly worse off financially, shorter, in worse physical shape, and as having lower course marks than the average male student at the university. Compared to perceived competitive advantage, perceived disadvantage led to less negative attitudes towards rape. However, perceived competitive status did not significantly affect justifications and excuses for rape. Future studies using similar experimental manipulations can complement correlational studies and may contribute to greater clarity, precision, and sophistication of research and theory on the role of competitive disadvantage in rape.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Attitudes, Competitive disadvantage, Rape, Sexual coercion, Status
Journal Evolutionary Psychology
Citation
Nunes, K, & Pettersen, C. (Cathrine). (2011). Competitive disadvantage makes attitudes towards rape less negative. Evolutionary Psychology, 9(4), 509–521.