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Sexual Violence Research Laboratory

The Sexual Violence Research Lab at UL Lafayette is led by Dr. Amy Brown. Dr. Brown’s research follows two primary lines of investigation:

  1. Social perception of sexual violence: This line of research explores the factors related to willingness to provide sympathy and support to victims and judgments of responsibility toward victims and perpetrators in hypothetical vignettes. Recent studies have shown that people judge a victim more harshly when (a) she has been drinking alcohol, (b) the rape involved little force on the part of the perpetrator, (c) she was blamed and stigmatized by others close to her. Studies fairly consistently show that men judge victims more harshly than do women. These findings have been presented at conferences and manuscripts have been submitted for publication.
  2. Bystander intervention against sexual violence: This line of research explores students’ willingness to engage in and prior experience with prosocial intervention in the context of sexual violence. We have worked on creating new measures of bystander attitudes and have investigated the impact of gender and perceived peer norms on bystander attitudes and behaviors. Current studies are investigating the impact of alcohol intoxication on bystanders by surveying drinkers in bars.

Students in the lab have led their own investigations on topics in line with the two research areas described above, but also on topics such as safe-sex attitudes and behaviors, sexual consent, and stigma among sexual and gender minorities.

The Sexual Violence Research Lab meets once a week to discuss on-going projects, to give students presentation opportunities, and to discuss articles related to lab members research interests. Because of the sensitive nature of the topics covered in the lab, lab meetings are not open and potential members must be screened before being invited to join. Students interested in learning more and potentially joining the lab are encouraged to contact Dr. Brown at or by stopping by Girard 214.

Recent publications

Bevens, C.L.*, Brown, A.L., & Loughnan, S. (2018). The role of self-objectification and women’s blame, sympathy, and support for a rape victim. PLoS ONE, 13(6): e0199808.

Brown, A.L. (2019). The effects of exposure to negative social reactions and participant gender on attitudes and behavior toward a rape victim. Violence Against Women, 25, 208-222.

Brown, A.L., Horton, J.*, & Guillory, A.* (2018). The impact of victim alcohol consumption and perpetrator use of force on perceptions of an acquaintance rape vignette. Violence and Victims, 33, 40-52,

Stepanova, E, & Brown, A.L. (2017). Alcohol priming and attribution of blame in an acquaintance rape vignette. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, (on-line first publication December 18, 2017).

Brown, A.L., Banyard, V.L., Moynihan, M.M. (2014). College students as helpful bystanders against sexual violence: Gender, race, and year in college moderate the impact of perceived peer norms. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 38, 350-362. DOI: 10.1177/0361684314526855

* indicates student co-author.