Was She Wearing Red? The Function of Victim-Blaming In Women's Intrasexual Competition

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Previous research indicates that women frequently use red clothing to signal their sexual receptivity, with men and women both recognizing this as a reliable cue to such receptivity. Nonetheless, receptivity cues can inform perceptions of women's culpability for experiencing sexual assault. Thus, women experiencing sexual assault could become more of a target for victim-blaming if assaulted while wearing red. Such victim-blaming could be especially apparent especially among those who believe the world is just. The current study presented a sexual assault vignette to American undergraduates (155 women, 66 men) describing a woman wearing either red or green whom participants evaluated for the degree of culpability she has for the assault. Results indicated that the red-wearing target was viewed as more culpable for the assault, particularly for women with heightened just-world beliefs. We frame results from an evolutionary framework considering victim-blaming as part of women's intrasexual competition.

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