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BDSM Proclivity Among College Students

Abstract

Bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM) proclivity among college students is poorly characterized, in part because existing measures of BDSM proclivity highlight the consensual nature of BDSM and are appropriate for use with non-community members (e.g., those who may not understand BDSM jargon). The current study introduces such a measure, the BDSM Proclivity Scale, which characterizes BDSM proclivity among college students and evaluates relations of BDSM proclivity with other sexual attitudes and behaviors. College students (n = 552) completed measures of BDSM proclivity, sociosexual attitudes and behaviors, rape-supportive attitudes, lifetime sexual partners, and consent-seeking behavior. Two factors mapping onto attitudes and experiences related to BDSM were identified and cross-validated. Average endorsements of BDSM attitudes and experiences on a 7-point Likert scale (1 = strong disagreement, 7 = strong agreement) were 5.61 and 4.44, respectively. Structural models revealed that lifetime sexual contact and gender significantly positively correlated with BDSM attitudes and experiences, sociosexual attitudes positively correlated with BDSM attitudes, and rape-supportive attitudes positively correlated with BDSM experiences. Consent-seeking was unrelated to BDSM experiences or attitudes. College student BDSM proclivity was evident for both attitudes and experiences, highlighting the need to characterize the development of BDSM proclivity and its correlates, the sources of students’ knowledge, and the nature of students’ experiences. The observed associations between BDSM proclivity and relevant sexual attitudes and behaviors support its construct validity and suggest that BDSM proclivity may prove to be an important addition to the broader constructs assessed in sexual attitudinal and behavioral domains.

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Correspondence to Caroline C. Boyd-Rogers.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1964 and its later amendments. Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.

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Appendix A: BDSM Proclivity Scale

Appendix A: BDSM Proclivity Scale

Indicate how much you agree with the following statements.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Strongly disagree    Neither agree nor disagree    Strongly agree
  1. 1.

    I am OPEN to the idea of either myself or a TRUSTED partner being sexually dominant over the other, if WE AGREE that I take control or that my partner takes control during the sexual interaction in a SAFE way.

  2. 2.

    I am INTERESTED IN the idea of either myself or a TRUSTED partner being sexually dominant over the other if WE AGREE that I take control or that my partner takes control during the interaction in a SAFE way.

  3. 3.

    I think that I MIGHT ENJOY either myself or a TRUSTED sexual partner being sexually dominant over the other, if WE AGREE that I take control or that my partner takes control during the sexual interaction in a SAFE way.

  4. 4.

    I have significant KNOWLEDGE about (not experience with) SAFE and AGREED-UPON sexually dominant practices that occur between TRUSTED partners.

  5. 5.

    I have EXPERIENCE in either being sexually dominant with a TRUSTED partner or having a TRUSTED partner being sexually dominant, after we AGREED that either I or my partner would take control during the sexual interaction in a SAFE way.

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Boyd-Rogers, C.C., Treat, T.A., Corbin, W.R. et al. BDSM Proclivity Among College Students. Arch Sex Behav 51, 3169–3181 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-022-02303-w

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-022-02303-w

Keywords

  • BDSM
  • College students
  • Sexual attitudes
  • Sexual behavior