Term of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Dorthie Cross-Mokdad

Committee Member 1

Dr. Thresa Yancey

Committee Member 2

Dr. Rebecca Ryan


Understanding factors that could influence attitudes and beliefs regarding child sexual abuse may inform efforts to educate clinicians, legal and medical personnel, and even the public on potential sources of bias and barriers to treatment and other service utilization, particularly in rural communities. The purpose of the current study was to experimentally investigate the impact of child accuser age and gender and participant rural status on ratings of perceived credibility of child sexual abuse allegations described in vignettes. With this study, I aimed to not only clarify and update previous findings on accuser age and gender, but also to expand the literature by examining interactions of the two, as well as examine the potential relevance of rural status to perceived credibility of child sexual abuse victims. Three hundred twenty-seven participants were recruited via Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) and were randomly assigned to read and evaluate one of six versions of a vignette that varied only in terms of child accuser age (6, 11, and 15 years old) and gender (boy, girl). The study did not find a significant effect of child accuser age on ratings of perceived credibility, but child accuser gender was found to be significant in that boys were rated as less credible than girls. Participant rural status was not significant. Moreover, no significant interactions were found. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings, as well as study limitations, are discussed.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material