Exploring connections between college male sexual violence risk factors, attitudes and behaviors with responses to sexual violence vignettes
Walters, Deanna Lynn
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This study explored characteristics among college men for perpetrating sexual violence. The sequential mixed-methods study began with qualitative preliminary work, which led to the development of the cross sectional quantitative study implemented later. In the preliminary work phase, vignettes depicting sexual violence among college students were tested on undergraduate participants. Written participant responses shaped questions later used on the cross sectional quantitative survey. Following the preliminary work, a cross sectional survey on UGA college male undergraduates was conducted, which included a variety of measures on factors known to be related to sexual violence perpetration. The survey included the previously-tested vignettes, along with Likert-style questions formed from themes developed through the preliminary work. This study proposed that group membership, alcohol use, rape myth acceptance, hypermasculinity, sex-related alcohol expectancies, and empathy level could predict sexual violence acceptance, as measured through vignette responses, and previous sexually violent behavior. Results showed that males who scored higher on rape myth acceptance had higher sexual violence acceptance. Males who were members of a fraternity or club sport scored higher risk on two of the four vignettes measuring sexual violence acceptance, though there were differences between the groups regarding which vignettes yielded higher scores. Fraternity membership predicted previous sexual violence behavior, while having no affiliation with a fraternity, club sport or other registered student organization predicted the lowest likelihood of having engaged in sexual violence. Participants who scored higher risk on alcohol use, rape myth acceptance, hypermasculinity and personal sex-related alcohol expectancies were more likely to have committed sexual violence compared with those who scored lower on those measures. Those who committed sexual violence scored higher risk on sexual violence acceptance for two of the four vignettes when compared with those who did not commit sexual violence. Implications for this study are that results may assist in the development of primary prevention programs targeting college men at high-risk for committing sexual violence, and shifting the focus away from survivor behavior that prevents being assaulted while placing the responsibility for change on preventing and reforming perpetrator behavior.