This research article was published in the journal of Sexuality Research and Social Policy. The full text can be read here.
This research study, by Dr. Eric Sprankle and SWOP-USA board member, Katie Bloomquist looks at how changing whether a sexual assault victim was a sex worker or non-sex worker affects empathy for the victim, as well as victim-blaming.
In the study, 197 Midwestern U.S. undergraduate students (mainly white, heterosexual cisgender women) read the same newspaper article reporting a sexual assault. In the article, the victim’s identity was modified, and the victim was either a sex worker, prostitute, social worker, or no title (simply woman).
After reading the article, participants filled out a survey to measure their empathy for the victim and blaming of the victim and perpetrator, called a Victim Empathy Scale. They also filled out a survey to gauge whether the article had emotionally affected them, called a Positive and Negative Affective Schedule, or PANAS.
The study found that respondents were less likely to empathize with, and slightly more likely to victim-blame when the individual had a sex worker identity.
A community research summary of this paper can be viewed here.