Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Daniel A. Krauss

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© 2015 LillyBelle K. Deer


Recently, expert testimony in sexual assault trials shifted from an emphasis on Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and experts have tied these diagnoses either loosely or tightly to the victim’s condition following sexual assault. In the current study, 326 jury-eligible adults completed a survey on Amazon Mechanical Turk in which they read a synopsis of a sexual assault trial and an expert testimony with either RTS, PTSD or neither; along with either no, loose, or tight links made between the diagnosis and the victim’s condition. There was no main effect of diagnosis label but testimony linkage did have an effect on verdicts. Women gave more guilty verdicts due to their lower levels of Rape Myth Acceptance (RMA), and the effect of gender partially depended on RMA. Implications for how expert testimony can affect defendants’ and plaintiffs’ credibility are discussed.