Sexual Assault and Depressive Symptoms in College Students: Do Psychological Needs Account for the Relationship?

Document Type


Publication Date



In this study, authors examined basic psychological needs (namely, competence, autonomy, and relatedness) as potential mediators of the association between sexual assault and depressive symptoms in a sample of 342 college students. Results from conducting a multiple mediation test provided support for partial mediation involving the indirect effects of competence and autonomy. In contrast, no support for mediation was found involving relatedness. It is notable that sexual assault remained a significant predictor of depressive symptoms in students. Therefore, findings indicate how sexual assault may both directly and indirectly (through psychological needs) lead to greater depressive symptoms in students. Authors concluded the article with a discussion of the implications of their findings for expanding the study of basic psychological needs in college students and the need for greater efforts to prevent and treat sexual assault on campus.