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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Past sexual victimization has been identified as a predictor of women's sexual risk-taking. In order to develop effective prevention and treatment programs, research is needed that examines perpetrators' characteristics.
Thus, the goal of this study was to examine predictors of men's willingness to use coercive strategies to obtain sex without a condom. One month later, they participated in an alcohol administration study and watched a video about a couple in a consensual sexual situation.
Participants were asked to evaluate how justified they would be in using a variety of coercive strategies to make the woman have unprotected sex. In hierarchical multiple regression analyses, there was a ificant main effect of past perpetration such that men who had ly committed sexual assault felt more justified using coercive strategies to obtain unprotected sex than did nonperpetrators. Acute alcohol consumption did not have a main effect; however, it interacted with hostility and misperception.
Among participants who consumed alcohol prior to watching the video, the greater their preexisting hostility, the more justified they felt in using coercion.
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Similarly, the more frequently drinkers had misperceived women's sexual intentions in the past, the more justified they felt in using coercion. Based on these findings, several specific suggestions are made for prevention and treatment programs, including targeted communication skills and normative feedback interventions. Risky sexual behavior occurs with disturbing frequency among women with a history of sexual violence Arriola, Louden, Doldren, and Fortenberry, ; Maman, Campbell, Sweat, and Gielen, For example, Molitor, Ruiz, Klausner, and McFarland found that low-income women who had been sexually assaulted had more sexual partners and were less likely to use condoms than were low-income women who had not been sexually assaulted.
Similarly, female college students who had been sexually assaulted were more likely than nonassaulted women to engage in a variety of risky sexual behaviors, such as having sex without a condom and meeting new partners at bars Davis, Combs-Lane, and Jackson, Most sexual assaults are committed by a date, spouse, or romantic partner, thus survivors may be unwilling to suggest using a condom out of fear of angering their partner and provoking a violent response Maman et al.
Even if this partner has not acted violently, sexually assaulted women's past experiences may make them uncomfortable asserting themselves and anxious about acting in ways that they believe may anger their partner Quina, Morokoff, Harlow, and Zurbriggen, Although there is a burgeoning literature focused on the impact of sexual violence on women's sexual risk-taking, there has not been a commensurate focus on perpetrators' behavior. Prior to developing prevention and treatment programs, research is needed to determine if sexual assault perpetrators are more likely than other men to force female partners to have sex without a condom.
Research is also needed that examines the circumstances under which men are more or less willing to use coercive strategies to make a female partner have unprotected sex. This study begins to fill the void by examining the role of acute alcohol consumption, hostility, and misperception on sexual assault perpetrators' and nonperpetrators' hypothetical willingness to use coercive strategies to obtain unprotected sex.
This study's hypotheses were developed based on several disparate literatures.
The relevant research is briefly summarized below and then the study's hypotheses and findings are presented. Approximately half of all crimes are committed when the perpetrator is intoxicated, including sexual assault Abbey, Zawacki, Buck, Clinton, and McAuslan, ; Martin and Bryant, ; Pernanen, ; Testa, Longitudinal surveys of adolescent males have found strong relationships between alcohol use, delinquency, and violent behavior Moffitt, Caspi, Harrington, and Milne, ; Welte, Barnes, Hoffman, Wieczorek, and Zhang, Alcohol administration studies, which have focused on aggression toward someone of the same sex, have consistently demonstrated that moderate doses of alcohol increase men's aggressive behavior for reviews see Chermack and Giancola, ; Ito, Miller, and Pollock, Intoxicated male participants provide higher levels of shock to a fictitious male opponent than do placebo or control participants Bailey and Taylor, ; Chermack and Taylor, ; Giancola, Godlaski, and Parrott, ; Parrott and Zeichner, For example, Norris et al.
As compared to sober and placebo participants, men who consumed alcohol prior to reading the story were less likely to perceive the sexual encounter as violent and more likely to believe the woman enjoyed it. Johnson et al. When the woman acted interested in the man, moderately intoxicated participants were more accepting of the man in the story using force to obtain sex and expressed greater willingness to personally use force to obtain sex if they were in that situation as compared to sober and placebo participants. The effects of individual differences in hostility and anger have frequently been examined in alcohol administration studies that measure general aggression Bailey and Taylor, ; Giancola et al.
Individuals with high scores on measures of trait hostility and anger tend to respond more aggressively when intoxicated than do individuals with low scores. For example, Giancola et al. Given alcohol's effects on higher order cognitive skills including response inhibition, it is not surprising that individuals who are prone to anger are particularly likely to become aggressive when intoxicated Abroms, Fillmore, and Marczinski, ; Curtin and Fairchild, Individual differences in hostility and anger have not been systematically examined in alcohol administration studies of sexual assault.
Norris, George, Davis, Martell, and Leonesio included a measure of hypermasculinity, which assesses individual differences in callous attitudes toward women and perceptions of aggression as manly. In an alcohol administration study in which men reacted to a story about a female sexual assault victim, they found that men who drank alcohol and were high in hypermasculinity were ificantly less likely than other participants to respond empathically to the victim's s of distress.
There is a sizable literature which demonstrates that men perceive women as behaving more sexually and being more interested in a sexual relationship than do women Abbey, ; Edmondson and Conger, ; Fisher and Walters, Misperception of sexual intent has frequently been linked to sexual assault perpetration Abbey, McAuslan, and Ross, ; Muehlenhard and Linton, For example, Abbey et al. Shea asked unacquainted women and men to engage in a brief conversation.
As found in past research, there was a main effect of gender with men perceiving their partners as behaving more sexually than did women. Additionally, among male participants there was a main effect of past sexual assault perpetration.
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Men who ly used verbal coercion to obtain sex from a woman perceived their partners as behaving more sexually than did noncoercers. There is some evidence that alcohol may act synergistically with misperception during sexual assault incidents.
Abbey, McAuslan, Zawacki, Clinton, and Buck collected detailed information from male college students about either a time they forced sex on a woman or their worst date. Sexual assaults involved greater alcohol consumption and a longer period of misperception than did worst dates.
Furthermore, many perpetrators report that they use women's alcohol consumption as a of their sexual interest and justification for sexual aggression Kanin, Several alcohol administration studies have examined the effects of acute alcohol consumption on hypothetical condom use.
Although these studies portray completely consensual sexual situations, they demonstrate that intoxicated men are frequently motivated to have sex without a condom. For example, MacDonald, Zanna, and Fong asked male college students to watch a video in which an attractive woman was interested in having sex with a man without a condom. They found that intoxicated and sober participants reported being equally sexually aroused and equally certain that having sex in this circumstance would be irresponsible.
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However, intoxicated men were more likely than sober men to report that they would have sex if they were in this situation. Maisto, Carey, Carey, and Gordon also examined young men's responses to a hypothetical consensual sexual situation.
They found that intoxicated participants expressed more willingness to engage in sex without a condom and were less skilled in negotiating condom use with a hypothetical partner than were placebo or sober participants. The goal of this study was to examine the mutual effects of past sexual assault perpetration, acute alcohol consumption, hostility, and misperception on men's responses to a hypothetical situation.
Participants watched a video in which a young man and woman engaged in consensual kissing and touching. Participants were asked to imagine how they would respond if they wanted to have sex, but the woman was unwilling because a condom was not available.
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Main effects of past sexual assault perpetration were hypothesized. As compared to nonperpetrators, men who had ly committed sexual assault were expected to express greater willingness to use coercive strategies to make a woman have sex without a condom in this hypothetical situation. This hypothesis is partially an assessment of construct validity. Men who are willing to use coercive tactics to obtain sex should also be willing to use coercive tactics to obtain sex without a condom.
Acute alcohol consumption was expected to increase the use of coercion only among participants near their violence threshold Fals-Stewart, Leonard, and Birchler, Most men are expected to have a high threshold for using violence to obtain sex; thus being intoxicated is unlikely to increase their likelihood of being sexually violent.
As described above, aggression researchers have demonstrated that anger and hostility exacerbate the effects of alcohol consumption, particularly when people feel provoked Giancola et al. Hostility is the cognitive component of aggression and is operationalized with items that focus on resentment, ill will, and suspicion Buss and Perry, Thus, we hypothesized that men who had high levels of hostility and consumed alcohol would be more willing to use coercive strategies than would other men because they would resent the woman for insisting on using a condom and suspect that she was purposely trying to upset them.
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Their hostility would make these men feel justified in using whatever strategies were required to get what they wanted from the woman. Acute alcohol consumption and past misperception were also hypothesized to have interactive effects. Men's misperception of women's sexual intent has frequently been attributed to self-fulfilling hypotheses Abbey, Zawacki, and Buck, If a man thinks that a woman is sexually attracted to him, he will focus on cues that fit this hypothesis and ignore cues that a less biased observer would have noticed.
Similarly, intoxicated individuals tend to focus on the most salient cues in a situation and find it difficult to process contradictory information Steele and Josephs, ; Taylor and Leonard, Thus, we hypothesized that men who frequently misperceived women and consumed alcohol would be more willing to use coercive strategies than would other men because they would focus on her initial willingness to have sex and ignore her insistence on using a condom. Most aggression and sexual decision-making studies have not found placebo effects; alcohol's effects were associated with actual alcohol consumption rather than the belief that one had consumed alcohol Chermack and Giancola, ; Ito et al.
In the few relevant sexual aggression studies, the findings regarding placebos have been mixed Gross et al.
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Although a placebo condition was included in this study, based on the predominant findings in the aggression literature we hypothesized that placebo participants' responses would be similar to those of sober control participants who knew they were not drinking alcohol. Participants were 72 male college students at a large urban university.
They were recruited from enrollment lists and advertisements posted on campus. On average, participants consumed The study's procedures were approved by the University's Institutional Review Board.
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Potential participants were contacted by telephone and asked if they were interested in participating in a two-part study of health and relationships. They were told that if they were eligible, Part 1 would involve completing a survey and Part 2 would involve participating in a laboratory study in which they might drink alcohol. Potential participants were screened to verify that they were 21 years of age or older, had consumed at least one alcoholic beverage within the past 30 days, had consumed at least four drinks on one occasion in the past 12 months, had no history of alcohol or drug misuse, and no health problems or current medication use that contraindicated alcohol consumption National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Furthermore, due to the study's focus on men's potential willingness to coerce a new female partner to have sex without a condom, they were also required to be single and to date women.
Individuals who met the study criteria and expressed interest in participating were mailed an information sheet describing the study which contained all elements of informed consent, a questionnaire, a payment sheet, and two stamped envelopes. Questionnaires and payment sheets were mailed back in separate envelopes. Only arbitrary identification s were used on questionnaires, thus, no personally identifying information was included in that envelope.