Abbey, A., P.O. Buck, T. Zawacki, and C. Saenz. 2003. “Alcohol’s Effects on Perceptions of a Potential Date Rape.”

Abbey, Antonia, Philip O. Buck, Tina Zawacki, and Christopher Saenz. 2003. “Alcohol’s Effects on Perceptions of a Potential Date Rape.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol (September 2003): 669-677.

Alcohol consumption (as performed with placebo and real alcohol), alcohol expectancies, attitudes about casual sex, and usual date-based drinking had significant impacts on male and female students’ prediction that (in the narrative provided) the fictional male character would verbally coerce the female character to have sex, despite repeated verbal refusals. However, gender did not have significant impacts on how students predicted the narrative outcome. Respondents who were intoxicated supported the narrative man’s offending actions (rejecting the narrative women’s repeated refusal/lack of consent to sexual activity), perceiving that the fictional woman was more sexually aroused, than respondents who were not intoxicated. Thus, intoxication and substance use demonstrates an important mediation in decision making – particularly in regards to situations of detecting site of potential sexual assault. More so, this study has direct programmatic implications, as college students who drink alcohol on dates, approve of casual sex relationships, and who have strong alcohol expectancies (that certain things will happen – aggression, sex, etc. when alcohol is consumed)  may be at higher risks of sexual assault (and thus would benefit from targeted assault education programming).

Sexual assaults (as experienced most frequently by college students) are more likely to occur in dating or party scenarios – often after participation in some consensual sexual activities (i.e. kissing, etc.)  (Abbey et al 2001a). Exactly when the scenario shifts from consensual to forced tends to be ambiguous and may be interpreted differently by men and women. Additionally, intoxicated persons (respondents) may not be able to seek out critical indicators of this shift, interpreting the ending of this ambiguous assault narrative quite differently than sober participants.

Alcohol consumption interrupts “higher-order cognitive processing, making it difficult to focus on competing, contradictory information” (here 669, see also Chermack and Giancola 1997). This may source from the reduced ability to recall, perceive, or concern oneself with negative consequences, as well as increased justification for negative behaviors (Fromme et al 1999; MacDonald et al 1996, 2000; Murphy et al 1998). Fromme et al (1999) noted that intoxicated participants perceived fewer negative consequences associated with sex than sober ones. MacDonald et al (2000) noted that intoxicated participants listed more positive consequences of having sex than did sober/placebo participants. Murphy et al (1998) noted that intoxicated women were less concerned about risk cues, but were not less likely than sober women to notice them (kx^ – very interesting – even while ‘out of control,’ women are still assessing risk…). Norris et al (1996) noted that women realize that behaviors such as getting drunk at parties put them at risk for sexual assault; however, they feel as if they are able to avoid men who cannot be trusted. Additionally, Norris et al (2001) found that intoxicated men were less likely to perceive a man who committed acquaintance rape as deviant than sober men. (kx^ so, how are we to create effective bystander programs in substance-laden spheres, when men’s identification and justification of assault becomes blurred/heightened?) Testa et al (2000) noted that both sober and intoxicated women (upon reading a narrative about a pair of acquaintances – a drunk man and a sober woman) predicted the fictional man’s unwanted sexual advances to be likely, intoxicated women were more likely to engage in risky behaviors with the narrative man – inviting him in, kissing, etc. (Thus, supporting Murphy et al (1998)’s hypotheses).

Additionally, intoxicated individuals are more likely to focus (read/act on?) on immediate social and physical cues, rather than nuanced social cues (like internalized behaviors norms, self-evaluation, reflexivity, etc.) (Taylor and Leonard 1983). This becomes problematic as risk cues/warnings such as intoxication/isolation may be commonly overlooked (Norris et al 1996), particularly as mainstream rape education system focuses on stranger-based prevention techniques rather than those to be used in more familiar settings.  More so, men who believed that they were drinking alcohol (despite placebo) watched violent erotic slides longer than those who did not think they drank alcohol – thus, even the perception of consuming alcohol seems to offer “license” to commit deviant acts (George et al 1989). College students perceive the narrative act of drinking alcohol (shared by fictional men and women, rather than neither or only one party is drinking) to pre-empt later sexual activity (George et al 1995). Sober college students were more likely to view sex involving physical force as consensual when both parties of the fictional couple had been drinking (Norris and Cubbins 1992). This, upsettingly, marks a trend observed by Abbey et al (2001b), where surveyed sexual assault victims and perpetrators noted that when the assault involved alcohol, both had consumed it. Additionally, though many common expectations of rape involve the use of physical force, verbal coercion is a far more common tactic used in acquaintance assaults/rapes (Abbey et al 2001b, Norris et al 1996).

CITES

ABBEY, A., MCAUSLAN, P., ZAWACKI, T., CLINTON, A.M. AND BUCK, P.O. Attitudinal, experiential, and situational predictors of sexual assault perpetration. J. Interpers. Viol. 16: 784-807, 2001a.

ABBEY, A., ZAWACKI, T., BUCK, P.O., CLINTON, A.M. AND MCAUSLAN, P. Alcohol and sexual assault. Alcohol Hlth Res. World 25: 43-51, 2001b.

CHERMACK, S.T. AND GIANCOLA, P.R. The relation between alcohol and aggression: An integrated biopsychosocial conceptualization. Clin. Psychol. Rev. 17: 621-649, 1997.

FROMME, K., D’AMICO, E.J. AND KATZ, E.C. Intoxicated sexual risk taking: An expectancy or cognitive impairment explanation? J. Stud. Alcohol 60: 54-63, 1999.

GEORGE, W.H., DERMEN, K.H., AND NOCHAJSKI, T.H. Expectancy set, selfreported expectancies and predispositional traits: Predicting interest in violence and erotica. J. Stud. Alcohol 50: 541-551, 1989.

GEORGE, W.H., CUE, K.L., LOPEZ, P.A., CROWE, L.C. AND NORRIS, J. Selfreported

alcohol expectancies and postdrinking sexual inferences about women. J. Appl. Social Psychol. 25: 164-186, 1995.

MACDONALD, T.K., MACDONALD, G., ZANNA, M.P. AND FONG, G. Alcohol, sexual arousal, and intentions to use condoms in young men: Applying alcohol myopia theory to risky sexual behavior. Hlth Psychol. 19: 290-298, 2000.

MURPHY, S.T., MONAHAN, J.L. AND MILLER, L.C. Inference under the influence: The impact of alcohol and inhibition conflict on women’s sexual decision making. Pers. Social Psychol. Bull. 24: 517-528, 1998.

NORRIS, J., MARTELL, J. AND GEORGE, W.H. Men’s judgments of a sexual

assailant in an eroticized rape: The role of rape myth attitudes and contextual factors. In: MARTINEZ, M. (Ed.) Prevention and Control of Aggression and the Impact on its Victims, New York: Kluwer Academic/ Plenum, 2001, pp. 249-254.

NORRIS, J., NURIUS, P.S. AND DIMEFF, L.A. Through her eyes: Factors affecting women’s perception of and resistance to acquaintance sexual aggression threat. Psychol. Women Q. 20: 123-145, 1996.

NORRIS, J. AND CUBBINS, L.A. Dating, drinking, and rape: Effects of victim’s and assailant’s alcohol consumption on judgments of their behavior and traits. Psychol. Women Q. 16: 179-191, 1992.

TAYLOR, S.P. AND LEONARD, K.E. Alcohol and human physical aggression. In: GEEN, R.G. AND DONNERSTEIN, E.I. (Eds.) Aggression: Theoretical and Empirical Reviews, Vol. 2: Issues in Research, San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1983, pp. 77-101.

TESTA, M., LIVINGSTON, J.A. AND COLLINS, R.L. The role of women’s alcohol consumption in evaluation of vulnerability to sexual aggression. Exp. Clin. Psychopharmacol. 8: 185-191, 2000.

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