, Volume 35, Issue 11-12, pp 765-780

College students' judgments regarding sexual aggression during a date

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Effects of level of resistance and type of sexual behavior on judgments regarding sexual aggression on a date were studied. Participants were 138 female and 57 male college students who read one of six vignettes (three levels of resistance × two types of sexual behavior) describing a date in which unwanted sexual behavior occurred. Gender-neutral names (Chris and Pat) were used in the vignettes, and sex of aggressor and victim was not specified. Participants completed identical scales describing degree of disapproval of the aggressor's behavior from three different perspectives: their own viewpoint (Participant Rating), the victim's viewpoint (Victim Rating), and the aggressor's viewpoint (Aggressor Rating). Both Participant and Victim Ratings showed significant differences between levels of resistance, and significant but smaller differences due to participant gender. Participant ratings showed a significant but small difference between types of sexual behavior. The aggressor's overall behavior was labeled as date/acquaintance rape by 52.9% of participants for the vignette involving physical resistance and intercourse.

We thank Peggy Hannon for her help with data entry for statistical analysis.