Project Description

Elizabeth Starrett
Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Roark
The Art of Seduction: College Male Perceptions of Sexual Willingness

The body of sexual assault research historically focuses on survivors, specifically female survivors. This fails to consider half the people involved. Newly released research shows men predominantly react with guilt, shame, and depression when accused of sexual assault. This strongly suggests the majority of men do not intentionally commit sexual assault. The dichotomy is likely due to a genuine failure of communication between genders. The current study looks at how environmental learning influences men’s knowledge of sex; specifically, willful sex. Utah is the number one state in the country for pornography use and addiction. A plethora of research shows correlations between pornography use and decreases in consent-positive thinking. In addition, a disturbing number of popular men’s dating books, movies, articles, and other media encourages tactics that are non-consensual. In an ongoing study, vignettes were selected from a variety of literature and compiled into a survey. Sex health professionals ranked each vignette according to how much it encouraged willful sex. The survey was then given to college males and their positive or negative reactions to the dating advice were compared to the professional rankings. Preliminary results show men positively reacting to strategies professionals ranked as non-willful. This shows research of both genders is essential for effectively addressing Utah’s sexual assault epidemic.