Of Rape and Other Demons: The Impact of the Victim's Eye Size and Observer's Gender on the Attributions of Responsibility


  • Maria Clara Ferrão University of Algarve
  • Gabriela Gonçalves University of Algarve
  • Jean-Christophe Giger University of Algarve
  • Tiago Parreira University of Algarve


rape, victim's eye size, gender, responsibility, attraction


This study examined the influence of the victim's eye size and observer's gender on the observers' perception of initial attraction and honesty of the victim, identification of the observer with a female target, and observers' attribution of victim's and perpetrator's responsibility for rape. A 3 (victim's eye size: small vs. normal vs. large) x 2 (observer's gender: female vs. male) experimental design was used. Participants (45 females and 45 males) observed one of three randomly assigned female faces (with eye size manipulation) and rated initial attraction, honesty, and identification. They were then asked to read a rape scenario (with a non-traditional woman) and to rate the victim's and offender's responsibility. The victim's eye size was shown a significant effect on all variables, except for perpetrator's responsibility. The female face with large eyes was perceived as more attractive and honest, elicited higher identification, and was attributed less responsibility. No significant effects were identified for observer's gender. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.