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Warmth, Competence, and Blame: Examining Mothers of Sexually Abused Children Within the Stereotype Content Model.

Authors
  • Toews, Kelsi1
  • Cummings, Jorden A1
  • Williamson, Linzi E1
  • 1 University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. , (Canada)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of interpersonal violence
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2021
Volume
36
Issue
11-12
Pages
5334–5359
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/0886260518805773
PMID: 30311538
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Research shows that nonoffending mothers are frequently held at fault for child sexual abuse (CSA), by both society and professionals, with contradictory explanations for the fault. For example, the same maternal characteristic can be used to assign blame or alleviate blame (i.e., single mothers have been held more at fault for their child's CSA and less at fault). The purpose of this study was to assess a theoretically based model that could account for these different reasons. We tested the stereotype content model (SCM), which examines the content of stereotypes toward target groups, by focusing on perceptions of that group's levels of warmth and competence. We sampled 136 undergraduate participants who read a vignette describing CSA, and completed the SCM with the mother of the victim as the target, and measures of mother fault. Our results showed that participants fell into three SCM groups of mother fault: (a) Moderate Contemptuous Prejudice (i.e., low competence, low warmth); (b) Admiration (i.e., moderate competence, high warmth); and (c) Very Contemptuous Prejudice (i.e., very low competence, very low warmth). Each cluster also held unique emotions toward the mother, as predicted by the SCM. Results further showed that assigned levels of fault were significant, but that fault did not vary by SCM group, lending support to the ideas that the SCM can be applied to this group and that different participants assign fault for different reasons.

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