Examining Associations Between Participant Gender, Desired Partner Gender, and Views Toward Sexually Coercive Behaviors

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Sexual coercion—pursuit of sexual activity with a partner who has not provided full consent (Huppin & Malamuth, Sexual Coercion, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2015) is a pervasive problem that carries psychological and financial costs. Although much past research has focused on sexually coercive acts performed by men and directed at women, the current work evaluates the independent and interactive roles of participant gender, desired partner gender, and sexual orientation in predicting individuals’ views toward sexual coercion, a psychological outcome linked with coercive sexual behavior (e.g., Zinzow & Thompson in Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44:213–222, 2015). To this end, 1021 cisgender men and women (Mage = 26.46 years) who self-identified as heterosexual, gay/lesbian, or bisexual rated the acceptability of sexually coercive behaviors performed by individuals of their gender. Consistent with past behavioral research, men rated these acts to be more acceptable when performed by same-gender others than did women. Extending past research, this gender difference was observed across variation in desired partner genders and sexual orientations. Further, an attraction to women predicted higher acceptability ratings among men but not among women. Finally, identification as heterosexual (as compared to gay/lesbian or bisexual) predicted more favorable views toward these behaviors across participant gender. Taken together, these findings suggest that men who are attracted to women (specifically) may be most likely to view coercive behaviors as acceptable, and thus may be most likely to utilize them, when pursuing sexual activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-402
Number of pages12
JournalEvolutionary Psychological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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