Psychology ETDs

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This mixed methods study involved the qualitative development of and quantitative testing of the Sexual Assault Script Scale (SASS). In Study 1, 31 undergraduate women participated in semi-structured interviews that included qualitative questions about their expectations of a hypothetical sexual assault. Information from these interviews then was used to create items for the SASS. These items asked women to estimate the likelihood that specific contextual characteristics would be present during a hypothetical sexual assault. In Study 2, 500 undergraduate women completed the SASS. An exploratory factor analysis of the SASS resulted in a 40-item, four-factor solution. The subscales of the SASS were named Stereotypical/Severe Assault Beliefs, Acquaintance Assault Beliefs, Assault Resistance Beliefs, and Date/Friend Assault Beliefs. The association between the SASS subscales and measures tapping putative risk factors for sexual victimization (e.g., previous victimization history, sexual refusal assertiveness, alcohol use, number of consensual sexual partners, and attitudes about casual, impersonal sex) were examined. Regression analyses also were conducted to examine which risk measures uniquely predicted responses to the SASS subscales. More severe sexual victimization history predicted higher scores on the Stereotypical/Severe Assault Beliefs subscale. Higher sexual refusal assertiveness, a greater number of lifetime sexual partners, greater alcohol use, more severe sexual victimization history, and more positive attitudes about casual, impersonal sex predicted higher scores on the Acquaintance Assault Belief subscale. Higher sexual refusal assertiveness predicted higher scores on the Assault Resistance Belief subscale. Finally, greater alcohol use predicted higher scores on the Date/Friend Assault Beliefs subscale while higher sexual refusal assertiveness predicted lower scores on this subscale. While several studies still need to be conducted on the SASS, the measure may have utility for sexual assault prevention programs in identifying women at higher risk for victimization.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Venner, Kamilla

Second Committee Member

Goodkind, Jessica

Third Committee Member

Witkiewitz, Katie




Sexual Victimization, Scripts, Mixed-Methods, Sexual Assault Scripts

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