Sarah Merchant

Document Type

Honors Thesis


One in five women becomes a victim of sexual assault while in college. The effects of sexual assault are devastating, systemic and diminish the sense of safety on campus in general. Previous research found a total of 45% of men endorsed some form of sexual assault if they could get away with it, 14% endorsing rape but not force and 32% endorsing force but not rape. This highlights a discrepancy in some men’s minds between forced sexual contact and rape as a crime. To be clear, forced sexual contact is rape, which is a crime. The current study sought to replicate and extend these findings by examining a larger, more diverse sample. One-hundred-fifty-five male participants completed an online survey about attitudes towards sex and women, as well as cultural identification. 24% of men in our sample similarly endorsed some form of sexual assault if they could get away with it, 1% endorsing rape but not force, 13% endorsing force but not rape, and 10% endorsing force and rape. Results indicated no differences between American and non-American endorsements of sexual aggression. Further research is needed to examine the motivation behind endorsing force but denying rape.

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