Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 974–986 | Cite as

Sexual Coercion in Men and Women: Similar Behaviors, Different Predictors

  • Elizabeth A. Schatzel-Murphy
  • Danielle A. Harris
  • Raymond A. Knight
  • Michael A. Milburn
Original Paper


A growing body of literature supports the contention that both women and men employ various seductive, manipulative, intoxication, and even forceful tactics of sexual coercion to obtain sexual contact from unwilling partners. Although the self-reported coercive behavior of men and women may appear similar in many respects, predictors of such behavior seem to vary in important ways across gender. In addition to examining the prevalence of coercive behaviors reported across gender, the present study examined the extent to which four variables found in models of male sexual coercion predicted self-reported use of sexual coercion in a sample (n = 186) of college men and women: prior sexual abuse, sexual dominance, sociosexuality, and sexual compulsivity. Although prior sexual abuse seemed to be part of a cycle of sexual coercion among both men and women, key predictors of sexual coercion among men were sexual dominance and sociosexuality, whereas the key predictor of sexual coercion among women was sexual compulsivity. These findings support the notion that whereas men may behave coercively to obtain or maintain an impersonal sense of power and control, women may behave coercively to achieve some level of interpersonal connection when feeling out of control.


Sexual coercion Dominance Compulsivity Sociosexuality Sexual abuse Gender 



This research was supported by the Brandeis University Undergraduate Research Program, the Brandeis University Psychology Department, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston Clinical Psychology Program. I gratefully acknowledge Caryn Regen and Jeffrey Vernon for their time and insights during data collection and Joan Liem, David Lisak, and Alice Frye for their guidance and suggestions on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Schatzel-Murphy
    • 1
  • Danielle A. Harris
    • 2
  • Raymond A. Knight
    • 3
  • Michael A. Milburn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MassachusettsBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Justice StudiesSan José State UniversitySan JoseUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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