Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 341–351 | Cite as

Beyond “Just Saying No”: A Preliminary Evaluation of Strategies College Students Use to Refuse Sexual Activity

  • Tiffany L. Marcantonio
  • Kristen N. Jozkowski
  • Wen-Juo Lo
Original Paper


Preventing sexual assault is a core goal for universities as prevalence rates of sexual assault remain high, particularly among college students. A key mechanism thought to decrease rates of sexual assault is teaching college students how to give clear, explicit, verbal refusals. However, there is a paucity of research regarding how college students refuse sex. Thus, the purpose of this study was to understand different behavioral strategies college students would use to refuse sex. A sample of 773 heterosexual college students (523 women, 250 men) were recruited from two large southern universities in the USA to complete a survey on sexual communication. Thirty-eight items assessing verbal and behavioral cues that college students would use to refuse vaginal–penile sex were written based on previous, formative research. Items were assessed by the research team through an exploratory factor analyses, followed by a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The results yielded a three-factor structure: direct nonverbal refusals, direct verbal refusals, and indirect nonverbal refusals; CFA results suggested a good fit index for the model. Two independent sample t tests were conducted to examine differences in refusal cues across gender and relationship status; significant differences in refusals emerged for both. The three-factor structure depicting refusal cues was similar to previous work depicting cues college students use to communicate sexual consent; such information could inform sexual assault prevention programming.


Sexual refusals Sexual consent Gender differences College students 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health, Human Performance, and RecreationUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.College of Education and Health ProfessionsUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA

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