The Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale—Subtle Version: Using an Adapted Measure to Understand the Declining Rates of Rape Myth Acceptance

Alexandra R. Thelan, Elizabeth A. Meadows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Research in recent years has shown decreased rates of rape myth acceptance. This decrease may be due to an actual decline in attitudes, but it may also be fully or in part because such attitudes have become socially undesirable to acknowledge. However, most of the current measures of rape myth acceptance are not sensitive to this issue. The purpose of the current study was to examine this issue by adapting the psychometrically sound items from the most established rape myth acceptance measure (the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale, IRMA) and combining those with additional items that may seem less problematic to endorse. Results showed that the revised measure (IRMA-S) elicited higher levels of rape myth acceptance than the original when both were administered to all participants, regardless of the order of administration. This suggests that the decrease may in fact be due more to measurement issues than real declines in rape myth acceptance. However, this difference was very small practically, amounting to the difference between some agreement and some disagreement on a single item. Previous research has found that the measurement method employed in this study has been successful when utilizing other items, so it may be that the IRMA-S was not sensitive enough to detect real-world differences, or that having both measures included in a single administration, even with filler measures between them, affected responses to the IRMA-S. Despite not conclusively resolving that main question, this study moves this important area of research forward in several ways, including adding to the literature on rape myth acceptance results from a more diverse sample than previous ones and providing findings on the impact of different facets of social desirability, as well as pointing the way toward continued research on measurement of rape myth acceptance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)NP17807-NP17833
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • alcohol and drugs
  • cultural contexts
  • offenders
  • sexual assault
  • sexual assault
  • situational factors


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