Sex Roles

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 297-313

First online:

Perception of sexual intent: The role of gender, alcohol consumption, and rape supportive attitudes

  • Antonia AbbeyAffiliated withDepartment of Community Medicine, Wayne State University
  • , Richard J. HarnishAffiliated withMichigan State University and ARBOR Inc.

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This study examined the effects of participant's gender, participant's rape supportive attitudes, and target's alcohol consumption on participant's perceptions of target's sexual intent. Female and male college students read vignettes in which a young woman and man who were socializing consumed either alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages. At the studied university, approximately 86% of undergraduates were Caucasian, 8% were African American, 3% were Asian, and 3% had other ethnic backgrounds. As hypothesized, men perceived female targets as behaving more sexually than did women, especially men high in rape myth acceptance. Male and female targets' alcohol consumption interacted, such that when both individuals were drinking alcohol they were perceived as being most sexual and their drinking was viewed as most appropriate. The rape myth acceptance and alcohol findings are discussed in terms of their implications for sexual assault and substance abuse prevention programming.