A 'person-situation' interactive account of acquaintance rape

Willan, Victoria Jane orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0023-7679 (2005) A 'person-situation' interactive account of acquaintance rape. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Past research has found that both individual differences in personality characteristics, and situational variables, are related to males' rape proclivity. However, there is a lack of research investigating the inter-relationships between the two, and the
combined predictive validity of a person-situation model on males' acquaintance rape proclivity. Furthermore, very little has been done to explore the role of situational frustration, and how this may relate to males' personality characteristics and sexual misperceptions in a sexual interaction. This thesis aimed to extend the research by investigating the relative contribution of both personality and situational factors on males' (hypothetical) rape ratings. In Study 1, I investigated males' misperception of sexual intent intermittently throughout a (written) consensual sexual interaction, in which they were asked to imagine themselves as a participant, and measured males' subsequent frustration and likelihood of rape upon non-consent to sexual intercourse.
In addition, males' past sexual experience and rape-conducive attitudes were assessed. Results revealed that males' misperception of sexual intent during the initial stage of the interaction (when the `couple' first met in a nightclub) was the only predictor to significantly contribute unique variance to males' Likelihood of Acquaintance Rape (LAR). In Study 2, I extended this work by investigating the role of communication and males' personality characteristics, frustration and sexual expectations throughout the consensual and non-consensual stages of the interaction. It was again found that males' initial sexual expectations (when the `couple' first met in a local bar) best predicted LAR. It was further found in Study 2 that males' rape-myth acceptance both predicted initial sexual expectations and (to a slight extent) males' LAR; later analysis revealed that the interaction between Stage 1 and Rape Myth Acceptance (RMA) was a significant predictor of males' LAR. In Study 3, rape proclivity and the role of males' sexual experience and initial expectations in an alternative situation, a local cafe (i. e. a less `sexual' location), was investigated. It was found that males' (situational) frustration became the best predictor of LAR and initial expectations only indirectly predicted LAR (via males' frustration). In Study 4, I directly manipulated the initial meeting location, whilst controlling for alcohol, and the same personality and situational measures as Study 1 and 2 were utilised. Furthermore, extending on the Stage 1 finding thus far, males' sexual expectations were obtained at Stage 0 of the interaction (following minimal contact with the female). Consistent with Study 1 and Study 2, it was found that males' earliest sexual expectations (Stage 0) and RMA best predicted LAR. Further exploration of these two predictors revealed that Stage 0 misperceptions moderated the relationship between RMA and LAR. In conclusion, the problem of acquaintance rape perpetration does not appear to be one that arises from miscommunication between the sexes during sexual interactions.
Rather, it appears to be a result of males' initial sexual expectations, rape-conducive attitudes (RMA, and to a lesser extent, Hostility Toward Women), and negative affect produced at goal blockage. Therefore, future research would be best focused on situational factors, individual differences in rape-myth beliefs, and the impact of these on males' initial impressions of females' sexual proclivities during the mundane stages of the interaction.

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