Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Piercarlo Valdesolo


Disbelief is a type of negative social response to disclosures of sexual assault and has been found to lead to negative psychological outcomes for survivors (Ullman, 2010). The focus of this study is to identify how, upon disclosure of sexual assault, disbelief affects the survivor’s resilience, as well as two protective factors of resilience: self- efficacy and purpose in life. 246 participants (138 male, 71 females, 1 other) were recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk online platform. After removing participants for failing to complete the study or pass attention tests, 117 participants were included in data analysis. Participants were asked to answer measures from the perspective of a survivor after reading the survivor’s disclosure to a friend of their sexual assault.

Results indicate that self-efficacy and resilience were positively correlated. Likewise, disbelief reactions hinges on perceived belief in oneself. As such, it was found to lower self-efficacy through resilience. Self-efficacy was found to mediate the relationship between disbelief and resilience. However, purpose in life did not moderate the relationship between disbelief and resilience, suggesting that those with high purpose in life may not cope any better when receiving disbelief reactions than those with low purpose in life. Results suggests the critical role of self-efficacy in the resilience process, especially in the face of disbelief. Purpose in life was not found to be as important as predicted. This study underscores the importance of positive interpersonal and communal responses following disclosure of sexual assault.

Keywords: disbelief reaction, self-efficacy, purpose in life, resilience

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.