OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Attitudes Towards Sex Trafficking Victims: The Role of Perceived Monetary Compensation


Asia Pham


Despite the extensive history of exploitation of women and children in the United States, sex trafficking has only in recent years gained awareness in the public (Watts & Zimmerman, 2002). Although there is a breadth of research on gender-based violence, there is minimal literature on sex trafficking. Due to the complex and discreet nature of sex trafficking, the warning signs are often mistaken for domestic violence (Dando, Walsh, & Brierley, 2016). Sex trafficking may be viewed differently than other gender-based violence due to the exchange of money (Morgan, 2012). The present study investigates whether the perceived acquisition of money between the commercial sex buyer and victim in sex trafficking impacts people’s willingness to engage in anti-human trafficking efforts. We expect the perceived acquisition of money will lead to significantly less willingness to help other trafficking survivors. We hypothesize victim blame, empathy, and belief in sex trafficking myths will mediate the relationship between the commercial exchange and willingness for participants to want to help commercial sex trafficking survivors. This study examines responses to prototypical vignettes submitted by undergraduate students (N=250) at a university in Western United States, regarding a child being coerced into trafficking that was adopted and modified by Cunningham and Cromer (2016). The proposed analysis of our hypotheses will be tested using bootstrapping and hierarchical regression analyses. Data collection and analysis is ongoing. The present study can contribute to further understanding the public’s implicit stereotypes regarding the commercial exchange in sex trafficking.

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