Legally Imposed Costs, Self-Imposed Costs and Socially Imposed Costs: Why Men Don't Rape

Lita M. Mercado, San Jose State University

Violence prevention efforts can only improve if we discover what factors deter people from committing violent behavior. It has been suggested that moral deterrent factors may be just as effective in curbing illegal behavior as legal sanctions. Originally, the central concept of deterrence theory was the fear of legal punishment, and the importance of informal social sanctions was largely ignored. There is no theoretical reason however, why the notion of deterrence cannot be extended to other types of sanctions. State imposed costs are material deprivations in the forms of arrest and/or incarceration. Self-imposed costs, as defined by Grasmick and Bursik (1990), are shame or guilt feelings which actors might place on themselves when they engage in behaviors that they consider morally wrong. Socially imposed costs are the embarrassment or loss of respect people might experience when they violate norms, which their peer gro! ! ups support. While much research has been done on why men rape, this research will take a look at why men don't rape. The purpose of this research is to not only explore the deterrent effects of legal sanctions, but to also focus on the deterrent effects of perceived threats of shame and embarrassment on men's inclination to force sex on an unwilling woman.

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Updated 05/20/2006