Undergraduates who indicated that they knew a rape victim reported experiencing more empathy with a female patient presented on videotape than did individuals who did not know a rape victim. However, this heightened empathic response was not limited to another rape victim, as was found in a prior study contrasting the responses of rape victim subjects and control subjects, but was generalized to a victim of traumatic events unrelated to the experience of rape. Female subjects rated the patients on the videotapes as more likable, and they reported a more empathic response to the patients than did the male subjects. In addition, the undergraduates rated the rape victim patient as less emotionally stable and reported a less empathic response to her than to the videotaped patient whose personal problems were unrelated to rape.
M. Barnett, Mark D. Feierstein, Bernardine P. Jaet
Journal of Interpersonal Violence