Victim Blame

Legal decision-making in relation to sexual assault is often influenced by shared social beliefs (schemas). In investigating these beliefs, prior research has confounded different schemas – offence prototypes, sexual script schemas and victim and perpetrator stereotypes. It is unclear which schemas are influential and when, making it difficult to reduce the impact of such extra-legal factors. Our research will identify the key schemas, and advance social cognitive theory by demonstrating through a multi-method approach with police and community members when and how these particular schemas influence decision-making. We will also test two ways to reduce the influence of these extra-legal factors to promote a fairer legal system.


  • Associate Professor Barbara Masser (The University of Queensland)
  • Dr Blake McKimmie (The University of Queensland)
  • Professor Jane Goodman-Delahunty (Charles Sturt University)
  • Professor Regina Schuller (York University)


  • Masser, B. M., McKimmie, B. M. Goodmand-Delahunty, J., Schuller, R. (2012). $310,000 over 3 years. Rape victims on trial: Understanding police officers’ and jurors’ beliefs about sexual assault, victims, and perpetrators. ARC Discovery Grant Scheme
  • Masser, B. M. & McKimmie, B. M. (2009). $20,000 over 1 year – Understanding and diminishing the impact of stereotypes about female victims of sexual assault. UQ External Support Enabling Grant
  • McKimmie, B. M. (2008). $17,157.86 over 1 year – Stereotypes about sexual assault: What influences perceptions of victims? UQ Early Career Researcher funding scheme

Selected Publications

  • Stuart, S. M., McKimmie, B. M., & Masser, B. M. (2019). Rape Perpetrators on Trial: The Effect of Sexual Assault–Related Schemas on Attributions of Blame. Journal of Interpersonal Violence34(2), 310–336.
  • Nitschke, F. T., Masser, B. M., McKimmie, B. M., & Riachi, M. (2018). Intoxicated But Not Incapacitated: Are There Effective Methods to Assist Juries in Interpreting Evidence of Voluntary Complainant Intoxication in Cases of Rape? Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
  • Westera, N., McKimmie, B., Kebbell, M., Milne, R., & Masser, B. (2015). Does the narrative style of video-evidence influence judgments about rape-complainant testimony? Applied Cognitive Psychology. Ahead of print, 1-10, DOI: 10.1002/acp.3146
  • Bongiorno, R., McKimmie, B. M., & Masser, B. M. (2016). The Selective Use of Rape-Victim Stereotypes to Protect Culturally Similar Perpetrators. Psychology of Women Quarterly40(3), 398–413.
  • McKimmie, B. M. & Masser, B. (2010). Gender in the courtroom. In J. Adler (Ed.), Forensic Psychology: Concepts, Debates and Practice (2nd ed) (pp. 95-122). Devon: Willan Publishing.
  • Schuller, R. A., McKimmie, B. M., Masser, B. M., & Klippenstine, M. A. (2010). Judgments of sexual assault: The impact of complainant emotional demeanour, gender and victim stereotypes. New Criminal Law Review, 13(4), 759-780. DOI: 10.1525/nclr.2010.13.4.759
  • Masser, B., Lee, K., & McKimmie, B. M. (2010). Bad woman, bad victim? disentangling the effects of victim stereotypicality, gender stereotypicality and benevolent sexism on acquaintance rape victim blame. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 62(7-8), 494-504. doi:,