A study of the detrimental impact of rape mythologies and victim stereotypes in the application of character evidence in jury trials in England and Wales

  • Erin Dougherty

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisJD (Juris Doctor)


This study aims to analyse the presence of rape mythologies and victim stereotypes brought about by the presentation of certain evidence in rape trials and to utilise the psychological research behind cognition and perception to help explain why it is important that the law re-examine how it handles these topics. It is the combination of science with law and society that helps bridge a gap that exists in the current research aiming to explain why reform in this area is necessary. It begins with an examination of the current research into the prevalence of rape mythologies in society and the courtroom and how these might translate into victim stereotypes. It then explains the psychological studies of cognition and perception and maps these onto the discussions surrounding the successful activation of victim stereotypes at trial and why we must seek reform. The discussion moves to the current legislation in England and Wales surrounding these topics and where gaps in sufficient protections for victims might arise in practice. An analysis of solutions proposed by others is examined for best fit when considering the psychological principles explored in earlier chapters. A recommendation for the introduction of expert evidence combatting common rape mythologies and victim stereotypes is then put forth as the most relevant solution given the evidence presented throughout the rest of the work.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorAlessandro Corda (Supervisor) & Graham Ellison (Supervisor)

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