Sexual-perception processes in acquaintance-targeted sexual aggression

This study analyzes data from seven published studies to examine whether three performance‐based indices of men's misperception of women's sexual interest (MSI), derived from a self‐report questionnaire, are associated with sexual‐aggression history, rape‐supportive attitudes, sociosexuality, problem drinking, and self‐reported MSI. Almost 2000 undergraduate men judged the justifiability of a man's increasingly unwanted advances toward a woman on the Heterosocial Perception Survey‐Revised. Participants self‐reported any sexual‐aggression history, and some completed questionnaires assessing rape‐supportive attitudes, sociosexuality, problem drinking, and self‐reported MSI. A three‐parameter logistic function was fitted to participants’ justifiability ratings within a non‐linear mixed‐effects framework, which provided precise participant‐specific estimates of three sexual‐perception processes (baseline justifiability, bias, and sensitivity). Sexual‐aggression history and rape‐supportive attitudes predicted: (a) reduced sensitivity to women's affect; (b) more liberal biases, such that the woman's affect had to be more negative before justifiability ratings dropped substantially; and (c) greater baseline justifiability of continued advances after a positive response. Sexual‐aggression history and attitudes correlated more strongly with sensitivity than baseline justifiability; remaining variables showed the opposite pattern. This work underscores the role of sexual‐perception processes in sexual aggression and illustrates the derivation of performance‐based estimates of sexual‐perception processes from questionnaire responses.

Publication Date:
Mar 01 2018
Date Submitted:
Nov 21 2018
Aggressive Behavior
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 Record created 2018-11-21, last modified 2019-04-03

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