Alcohol's effects on perceptions of a potential date rape

Objective: The effects of alcohol consumption, alcohol expectancy set and self-reported alcohol expectancies on college students' perceptions of a potential date rape situation were examined. It was hypothesized that the effects of alcohol consumption on perceptions of the likelihood of forced sex would be mediated by cognitive factors and perceived sexual arousal. Method: 90 female and 90 male college students were randomly assigned to drink alcohol, a placebo beverage, or a nonalcoholic beverage. Participants read a story by about a couple that had been drinking together at a party. The story ended with the woman saying "no" to sexual intercourse and the man exerting verbal pressure. Results: Participants' alcohol consumption during the study, self-reported alcohol expectancies, attitudes about casual sex and usual drinking on dates had significant effects on their perceptions of the story. Participants' alcohol expectancy set and gender did not have significant effects on perceptions of the likelihood that the male character would force the female character to have sex. Conclusions: Intoxicated participants perceived the woman in the vignette as being more sexually aroused and the man in the vignette as behaving more appropriately, and both of these variables were negatively related to ratings of how likely it was that forced sex would occur. These findings highlight the importance of mediating cues in intoxicated decision making.
Author: 
Abbey,Antonia
Buck,Philip
Zawacki,Tina
Saenz,Christopher
Reprint Status: 
IN FILE
Start Page: 
669
End Page: 
677
Journal/Periodical Name: 
Journal of Studies on Alcohol
Volume: 
64
Issue: 
5
Abstract: 
The current study investigates the role of alcohol on both male and female participants' perceptions of a potential rape situation. The participants in this study were 90 men and 90 women recruited from an urban commuter university. The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups (a) a treatment group administered alcohol, (b) a placebo group administered an alternate beverage, and (c) a control group knowingly administered a nonalcoholic beverage. Participants were then given a story to read that described a scenario that might have resulted in rape. Participants in each group were asked how they felt about the behavior exhibited and to finish the script according to what they thought would happen next in the given scenario. Participants also completed measures related to alcohol expectancies, attitudes about sex, and frequency of alcohol consumption. Results indicate that participants who reported drinking alcohol more frequently tended to have positive attitudes about casual sex and to report that the aggressive behavior of the man in the story was not inappropriate. Furthermore, alcohol consumption and gender differences were not associated with the expectancy that the experimental story would result in forced sex. The results of this study show the need for education about situational characteristics that can potentially lead to sexual assault.
Topic Areas: 
Alcohol, College, Myths/Stereotypes
Reference Type: 
JOUR
Reference ID: 
1900
Publication Date: 
2003