Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Otto Zinser

Committee Members

David J. Marx, Roger C. Bailey


The present study examined whether the resource-potential (RP) of a male dater (i.e., potential financial success and status) and/or respondent gender related to attitudes toward coercive sexual behavior by the male. Participants (59 males and 82 females) read a hypothetical dating scenario in which a heterosexual couple went out for dinner and then returned to the female’s apartment to watch a movie. The RP of the male dater was set at high and low. Following the scenario, rating scales posing increasing levels of coercive sexual behavior (a sexual advance, verbal persuasion, and physical coercion) were presented. The participants rated the likelihood and acceptability of each behavior on a 7-point scale. A 2 (respondent gender) x 2 (high or low RP) between-subjects multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed on the six dependent variables (DVs): the likelihood of the three coercive behaviors and the acceptability of the three coercive behaviors. The combined DVs were significantly affected for respondent gender and RP but not by their interaction. Univariate analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were performed on each DV. Significant differences were found between males and females on all DVs except the acceptability of a sexual advance. Significant differences were also found between the high RP scenario respondents and the low RP respondents for the likelihood of a sexual advance and the likelihood of verbal persuasion. For exploratory purposes, univariate analyses were performed and an interaction was found between respondent gender and RP for the acceptability of verbal persuasion and the acceptability of physical coercion. While all hypotheses were not fully supported, overall the present study yielded very promising results. First, additional support was given to the coercive sexual behavior literature by the finding that females find coercive sexual behaviors more likely while males find them more acceptable. Secondly, social equity theory was supported by the finding that high RP scenario respondents found the coercive sexual behaviors more likely than the low RP scenario respondents did. Finally, the finding that females were more accepting of coercive sexual behaviors from a male with high RP than from a male with low RP offers support to the mating strategy assertions of sociobiological theory.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Psychology Commons