Event Title

Partner Characteristics, Confidence, and Knowledge Predict Sexual Consent Attitudes

Poster Number

047

Session Title

The College Experience

Document Type

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Description

This study examined college students’ perceptions of consent in sexual situations comprised of different partner-pairings; we included non-heterosexual couples, as research on sexual consent within these groups is very limited. Participants were 95 young adults (62% women; 50% Caucasian) with a mean age of 19.36 (SD = 1.41). Participants provided their perceptions of one of four randomly assigned scenarios; the scenarios described sexual encounters between a heterosexual couple, a gay couple, a lesbian couple, or an age-diverse heterosexual couple. In all scenarios, sexual consent was ambiguous and not clearly offered. Participants also responded to scales to measure sexual consent attitudes and sexual risk-taking. Mixed results were found for the hypotheses. Age did not influence college students’ perceptions of sexual consent; instead, students found the lack of consent less troublesome for a gay couple than for lesbian or heterosexual couples. This perception may reflect an (incorrect) assumption that consent is more important for a woman to give than for a man. Interestingly, the results did not find gender differences in overall perceptions of consent. Individuals who were African American, confident, or knowledgeable about sexual consent felt the most in control of their own sexual consent. However, knowledge of sexual consent was also linked to sexual risk-taking. Perhaps risky sexual choices create situations where sexual consent is necessary. Social media use, a common behavior among college students, predicted increased sexual-risk taking. This information, particularly regarding non-heterosexual couples, contributes to the growing body of research focused on understanding sexual consent on college campuses.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2020; Sixth Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE), Winthrop University, April 2020

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

Partner Characteristics, Confidence, and Knowledge Predict Sexual Consent Attitudes

This study examined college students’ perceptions of consent in sexual situations comprised of different partner-pairings; we included non-heterosexual couples, as research on sexual consent within these groups is very limited. Participants were 95 young adults (62% women; 50% Caucasian) with a mean age of 19.36 (SD = 1.41). Participants provided their perceptions of one of four randomly assigned scenarios; the scenarios described sexual encounters between a heterosexual couple, a gay couple, a lesbian couple, or an age-diverse heterosexual couple. In all scenarios, sexual consent was ambiguous and not clearly offered. Participants also responded to scales to measure sexual consent attitudes and sexual risk-taking. Mixed results were found for the hypotheses. Age did not influence college students’ perceptions of sexual consent; instead, students found the lack of consent less troublesome for a gay couple than for lesbian or heterosexual couples. This perception may reflect an (incorrect) assumption that consent is more important for a woman to give than for a man. Interestingly, the results did not find gender differences in overall perceptions of consent. Individuals who were African American, confident, or knowledgeable about sexual consent felt the most in control of their own sexual consent. However, knowledge of sexual consent was also linked to sexual risk-taking. Perhaps risky sexual choices create situations where sexual consent is necessary. Social media use, a common behavior among college students, predicted increased sexual-risk taking. This information, particularly regarding non-heterosexual couples, contributes to the growing body of research focused on understanding sexual consent on college campuses.