Situational and Dispositional Determinants of College Men’s Perception of Women’s Sexual Wantedness and Sexual Consent: A Factorial Vignette Analysis
Type of Degreedissertation
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The presence of sexual consent is pivotal to the determination of the legality and morality of a given sexual interaction. As such, the conceptualization of sexual consent is of particular importance within the study of sexual coercion. However, the dominant social construction of rape (and other forms of sexual coercion) conflates sexual “wantedness” (i.e., a feeling of desire to engage in a sexual behavior) with sexual consent (i.e., the communication of willingness to engage the behavior; Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007). The current study utilizes a factorial vignette analysis to examine college men’s perceptions of women’s sexual wantedness and sexual consent in hypothetical dating scenarios depicting a sexual interaction. In addition to explicit consent/refusal communication, the level of physical intimacy attained within the immediate sexual situation and prior sexual history within the relationship impacted men’s perceptions of both sexual wantedness and consent. Results suggested that men tended to perceive verbal consent/refusal communication more clearly than non-verbal communication. On average, men construed passive responding as falling between refusal and consent communication in terms of perceptions of sexual wantedness and consent. Finally, men who endorsed higher hypermasculine identity and and rape-supportive beliefs perceived sexual situations as more wanted by the woman and more consensual across situations, controlling for all other situational and dispositional factors.