, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 33-47

Rape fantasies as a function of exposure to violent sexual stimuli

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Twenty-nine male students, classified on the basis of questionnaire responses as sexually force oriented or non-force oriented, were randomly assigned to exposure to rape or mutually-consenting versions of a slide-audio show. All subjects were then exposed to the same audio description of a rape read by a female. They were later asked to create their own fantasies. Penile tumescence and self-reports of arousal indicated that relatively high levels of sexual arousal were generated by all of the experimental stimuli. No differences in arousal during the exposure phase were found as a function of the manipulation in the content of the slideaudio show. Sexual arousal during the fantasy period, assessed by means of self-reports, indicated that those who had been classified as force oriented created more arousing fantasies after having been exposed to the rape version of the show, whereas those classified as non-force oriented created more arousing fantasies following the mutually-consenting version. Most significantly, those exposed to the rape version, irrespective of their sexual classification, created more violent sexual fantasies than those exposed to the mutually-consenting version. The possible role of such media-elicited fantasies in the development of antisocial attitudes and behavior is considered. Also discussed are ethical issues arising from implementing or failing to implement research in this area.

This study was supported by Grant 431-1665-28 from the University of Manitoba Research Grants Committee. Portions of this paper were presented at the Second National Conference on the Treatment of Sexual Aggressives, New York City, 1979.