UA Little Rock researchers to investigate if religiosity is connected to misconceptions about sexual assault

Michael Meziere, of Little Rock, is examining if religiosity plays a factor in the misconceptions and myths surrounding sexual assaults on college campuses.

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock student is researching the relationship between religiosity, sexual misconduct, and rape myth acceptance. 

Michael Meziere, of Little Rock, is examining if religiosity plays a factor in the misconceptions and myths surrounding sexual assaults on college campuses. To carry out this study, Meziere will conduct surveys to gather information on religious beliefs and sexual attitudes.

“In society, the acceptance of rape myths, which lead to placing the blame on victims of sexual assault, is a real problem,” Meziere said. “There are not many studies that focus on religiosity and rape myth acceptance, so this will hopefully add some good data to that research area. We hypothesized that people who identify as very religious will be less likely to engage”

After discussing victim blaming among sexual assault victims in the classroom, Michael Meziere, a senior criminal justice major, got interested in doing research on the topic. Dr. Molly Smith, assistant professor of criminal justice, who specializes in research on sexual assault, rape myths, and the commercial sex trade, is serving as Meziere’s mentor.

“Michael’s research focuses on how religiosity impacts sexual victimization and sexual offending, particularly among college students,” Smith said. “While past studies have looked at these relationships individually, there has been minimal research on how they may be moderated by rape myth acceptance (false perceptions about the extent and nature of sexual assault). This is problematic given the high prevalence of sexual victimization and rape myth acceptance on college campuses, as well as the impact that religiosity may have on victim assault recognition and reporting. Michael’s study intends to increase our understanding of these relationships, and thus potentially inform future policy initiatives aimed at curbing victimization.”

Meziere will conduct a survey during February and March to see if there is a connection between a person’s religiosity, morality, and their acceptance of rape myth. He plans to present the results of his research at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences annual meeting in Baltimore in March and the UA Little Rock Student Research and Creative Works Expo in April.

“I hope this study will help the cause of preventing sexual assault across America and give researchers better insights to prevent sexual assaults from happening in the future,” Meziere said.

The research is funded by a $2,125 Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) award from the Arkansas Department of Education and a $625 match from the UA Little Rock Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

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