PREDICTING UNIVERSITY FRESHMEN'S PERCEPTIONS OF THE OCCURRENCE OF DATE RAPE AS DEPICTED IN TWO VIDEOTAPED SCENARIOS

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1994

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the degree to which certain variables (social context of drinking, alcohol use intensity, experience of sexually aggressive behavior, level of dating skills and social assertiveness, and perceived susceptibility related to date rape) predict university freshmen's perception of whether or not date rape occurred as depicted in two videotaped scenarios. Freshmen students enrolled in an orientation course (N = 232) during Fall semester 1993 completed a voluntary and anonymous pretest questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of six scales developed to measure the variables listed above; in addition to, demographic variables and items related to sexual behavior. Within two class periods of completing the pre-test questionnaire, students viewed a 15-minute videotape depicting two potential date rape scenarios (one scenario presented the situation from the male character's point of view [MARK], the other scenario was from the female character's point of view [SUZANNE]). Immediately following the videotape, students completed a brief post-video questionnaire to assess their perceptions of the occurrence of date rape in the two scenarios. Multivariate and univariate analyses of variance were completed to assess differences in independent measures based, on perception of the occurrence of date rape. Of the variables explored, the only one which provided any consistent significant findings was gender. For both scenarios, females were more likely than males to perceive the situation as date rape. With regard to social context of drinking, some ,of the results hinted at a possible link between social context of drinking and the perceptions of the occurrence of date rape. Subjects who reported SUZANNE as being "date rape with some doubt'" were more likely to use alcohol 1) to provide relief from external pressures; 2) in the context of close family members or friends; and 3) to conform to the norms of the group. Further analyses suggested that males who drink in certain social contexts reported more doubt regarding the occurrence of date rape for SUZANNE. This exploratory research study provides a broad foundation for future research related to predicting college students' perceptions of the occurrence of date rape.

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