Interpreting Ambiguity in Sexual Dating Encounters: Social Information Processing Differences in Men and Women
Date of Award
Ph.D. in Psychology
Alan M. Gross
Research has shown date/acquaintance rape to be the most prevalent type of rape. Dating and social interactions provide a context influenced by social factors (e.g., relationship with perpetrator, relationship expectation, peer influences) and personal factors (e.g., social perceptions, goals, learning history), many of which have been suggested to complicate decision making in reference to communicating sexual boundaries. Social Information Processing Theory (SIP) suggests individuals follow successive cognitive stages in determining how to respond to social stimuli. These stages are influenced by biological predisposition, environment, and learning history. The SIP model involves 6 stages: encoding of cues, interpretation of cues, goal clarification, response construction, response decision, and response implementation. Crick and Dodge (1994) proposed individual memory, social knowledge, and social schema affect each stage of social information processing resulting in a process that is unique to each individual. In order to examine male and female differences in decision making processes during a date rape situation, undergraduate college men and women listened to an audio tape of a male and female couple on a date engaged in the early stages of sexual negotiations (e.g., kissing). The woman expressed resistance to the man's attempts to have additional sexual contact (e.g., touching breasts and buttocks). The male acknowledges her resistance, but continues making sexual advances. Participants imagined themselves as the same sex vignette actor and responded to an SIP measure designed to assess five SIP cognitive processing stages related to the sexual situation: interpretation of cues (causal and intent interpretation), goal clarification, response decision, response evaluation, and response efficacy. Additionally, emotional reactions to the situation were assessed. Participants were also administered a measure to assess past sexual perpetration and victimization. A series of Chi-square tests were conducted and results indicated males and females significantly differed in all SIP stages: causal and intent interpretation, goal clarification, and response decision. To evaluate the predictive ability of prior SIP stage responses on response decision making, a multinomial logistic regression analysis was performed, and emotional reaction was found to be a significant predictor of responses decision highlighting the importance of emotion processing integration into social information processing research.
Ambrose, Carrie, "Interpreting Ambiguity in Sexual Dating Encounters: Social Information Processing Differences in Men and Women" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 34.