Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Adele Hills


It has been argued that trust is a moral value inherent in all relationships, however the moral obligation to keep trust is stronger in close relationships than in contractual type relationships. This study examined the effects of breach of trust for two crimes (rape and theft) occurring within two types of relationships (social relationship and employer-employee relationship). Trust was demonstrated by the victim agreeing to the offender entering her property because of his position (husband or lawnmower man). A second independent variable was victim risk which was manipulated by the victim either inviting the offender inside the house, or not. Participant gender was also included in the analysis. Participants were asked to assign a sentence for the offender and to write down what factors they took into consideration when making their judgement. Participants were 168 members of the community and were contacted using a snowballing technique. There were eight experimental conditions, four in the rape condition -husband/invited (11 male, 10 female), husband/not invited (10 male, 10 female), employee/invited (11 male, 10 female), employee/not invited (11 male, 10 female), and four in the theft condition - husband/invited (11 male, 11 female), husband/not invited (11 male, 11 female), employee/invited (10 male, 10 female), and employee/not invited (11 male, 10 female). Assignment to each group was through random distribution of vignettes. Two ANOVAs were performed, one for rape and one for theft. Sentences assigned to the husband were significantly lower than sentences assigned to the employee for both rape (husband M = 5.31, employee M = 10.77) and theft (husband M = 0.44, employee M 1.22). There was no difference in sentence assigned for rape or theft when the offender was invited inside or when he entered uninvited. Participant gender made no difference to sentence assigned for either the husband or the employee. Qualitative data suggested that participants acknowledged the breach of trust when the offender was an employee, however, few participants mentioned breach of trust by the husband.

Included in

Criminology Commons