Sex Roles

, Volume 49, Issue 9–10, pp 465–475 | Cite as

Rape and Seduction Scripts of University Students: Implications for Rape Attributions and Unacknowledged Rape

  • Heather L. LittletonEmail author
  • Danny Axsom


Research suggests that sexual scripts play a key role in how people understand and enact sexual interactions. For example, forced sexual activity may not be labeled as rape because it does not fit with individuals' rape script and instead fits better with another sexual script. The current studies concern one such sexual script, seduction, which may partially overlap with individuals' rape script, leading to ambiguity regarding how to label certain incidents of forced sex. Two studies were conducted to determine the elements of university students' rape and seduction scripts. In the first study, 50 students described one of these two scripts in response to an open-ended query. In the second study, students (n = 130) rated how typical they believed a number of potential script elements were of rape or seduction. Results from both studies indicate differences as well as overlap between the two scripts. In particular, both scripts tended to involve the use of manipulative tactics on the part of the man to obtain sex. Implications of the results for understanding the rape attribution process and unacknowledged rape are discussed.

rape attributions rape acknowledgment scripts 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburg

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