Men's sexual aggression as a function of their rape myth beliefs and their perceived alcohol consumption of a woman victim

Kathleen A. Crimmins

Abstract

The impact of a woman's perceived alcohol intoxication status (Sober vs. Intoxicated) and college men's beliefs in rape myths were examined as predictors of behavior in a laboratory sexual aggression task. In this study, male college students were asked to preview several choices of movie content (Neutral, Physical Aggression, and Sexual) and then asked to choose one to show a female confederate who appeared either sober or intoxicated and had previously indicated that she was not comfortable with sexual content in a movie. The two indices of sexual aggression that were investigated in this study were the choice of movie segment content and the duration of the content shown to a woman confederate. It was hypothesized that scores on rape myth beliefs and assignment to a woman confederate's alcohol status (Sober vs. Intoxicated) would predict choice of movie segment content, when anger, impulsivity, and alcohol influenced expectations regarding sex were controlled. It was also hypothesized that duration of the movie segments shown would be predicted by scores on rape myth beliefs, movie segment content, and assignment to confederate intoxication status, when anger, impulsivity and alcohol expectancies about sex were controlled. A validity check of the alcohol intoxication status revealed that many of the participants in the sober condition did not believe that participant was sober. As a result of this finding, the results of this study were analyzed using the original assignment to the confederate intoxication status (Objective) and the participant's subjective perception of the confederate's intoxication status (Subjective). Results from the moderated multinomial logistic regression indicated no significant effect of confederate intoxication status, or degree of rape myth belief on choice of movie segment content or an interaction of those two predictors. This finding was consistent whether the Subjective or Objective confederate intoxication status was used in the analysis. The results of the moderated multiple regression on duration revealed no significant findings when the Objective confederate Intoxication status was included in the analysis. The results of the second moderate multiple regression using the Subjective Confederate Intoxication status revealed a significant three way interaction. The three way interaction of belief in rape myths, confederate intoxication status (Subjective), choice of movie segment sexual content, on duration was significant, with participants who scored high on rape myths, who thought the confederate was intoxicated, and chose to show a movie segment with sexual content for longer durations. Study conclusions, limitations, and recommendations are discussed.