Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology

First Advisor

Alan M. Gross

Second Advisor

John Bentley

Third Advisor

Sarah Bilsky


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Sexual assault is an issue affecting approximately 1 in 5 women. Compared to White women, Black women report higher rates of lifetime rape, are at risk of developing physical/mental health issues post-assault (e.g., depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse), and are less likely to engage in help-seeking after sexual victimization. Research reveals the manner in which a woman refuses a sexual advance can influence a man’s perceptions of the genuineness of her refusal. Sexual refusals that are explicit (e.g., not wanting to have sex due to religious beliefs) are identified more quickly as violating a woman’s boundaries than sexual refusals based on level of relationship commitment (e.g., too early in the relationship for sex). Research also suggests that racially based sexual stereotypes influence perceptions of sexual interactions. There are several negative sexual stereotypes attributed to Black women (e.g., hypersexual and seductive). Moreover, sexual stereotypes of Black men include being viewed as aggressive and promiscuous relative to White men.


Clinical Psychology



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