The effect of young adult literature on adolescents' rape myth acceptance

Victor Malo-Juvera, Florida International University


This quasi-experimental study (N = 139) measured the effect of a reader response based instructional unit of the novel Speak on adolescents' rape myth acceptance. Participants were eighth grade language arts students at a Title I middle school in a major metropolitan school district. Seven classes were randomly assigned to treatment ( n = 4) or control (n = 3) condition. Two teachers participated in the study and both taught both treatment and control classes. The study lasted a period of five weeks. Participants were pretested using the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (Burt, 1980) and a researcher created scale, the Adolescent Date Rape Scale (ADRMS). Analysis of pretests showed the ADRMS to be a reliable and valid measure of rape myth acceptance in adolescents. Factor analysis revealed it to have two major components: "She Wanted It" and "She Lied." Pretests supported previous studies which found girls to have significantly lower initial levels of rape myth acceptance than boys (p < .001). A 2 (group) x 2 (instructor) x 2 (sex) ANCOVA using ADRMS pretest as a covariate and ADRMS posttest as a dependent variable found that treatment was effective in reducing rape myth acceptance (p < .001, η2 = .15). Boys with high rape myth acceptance as demonstrated by pretest scores of 1 standard deviation above the mean on ADRMS did not have a backlash to treatment. Extended analysis revealed that participants had significantly lower scores posttest on Factor 1, "She Wanted It" (p < .001, η2 = .27), while scores on Factor 2, "She Lied" were not significantly lower (p = .07). This may be because the content of the novel primarily deals with issues questioning whether the main characters assault was a rape rather than a false accusation. Attrition rates were low (N = 15) and attrition analysis showed that drop outs did not significantly alter the treatment or control groups. Implications for reader response instruction of young adult literature, for research on rape myth acceptance in secondary schools, and for statistical analysis of effect size using pretests as filters are discussed.

Subject Area

Literature|Education|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Malo-Juvera, Victor, "The effect of young adult literature on adolescents' rape myth acceptance" (2012). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3517024.