Peer Modeling and College Men's Sexually Impositional Behavior in the Laboratory
Mitchell, Damon, Angelone, D. J., Hirschman, Richard, Lilly, Roy S., Hall, Gordon C. Nagayama, The Journal of Sex Research
This study used a laboratory paradigm to examine the influence of peer modeling on sexually impositional behavior. Researchers have conceptualized sexually aggressive behavior as existing on a continuum of severity based on the level of imposition (Fitzgerald et al., 1988; Hall & Hirschman, 1991; Hall, Hirschman, & Oliver, 1994; Leidig, 1992; Sugarman, Aldarondo, & Boney-McCoy, 1996). At the milder but serious end of this continuum are noncontact behaviors such as sexually offensive joke telling and sexually offensive comments. Surveys have found that noncontact sexually impositional behaviors occur with an extremely high frequency on college campuses and in the workplace (Fitzgerald et al., 1988; Gutek, 1985; Shepela & Levesque, 1998) and are perceived negatively by recipients (Sandier, 1997). For purposes of this study, a mild but serious noncontact sexually impositional behavior in the laboratory was defined as a male participant showing a sexually aggressive video clip to female confederate.
The substantial literature investigating the prevalence of sexually impositional behaviors varies in degree of methodological rigor, but a high prevalence for these behaviors has been a consistent finding as have differences in rates of perpetration and victimization between males and females (Spitzberg, 1999). It has been estimated that 25% of women have experienced some form of sexual imposition by adulthood, and 25% of men have committed some form of sexual imposition (Koss, Gidycz, & Wisniewski, 1987; Rapaport & Burkhart, 1984). Women may be as much as four times more likely than men to be sexually victimized (Spitzberg, 1999). Perhaps as a result of these discrepancies, analogue studies of sexually impositional behavior have largely placed male participants in the role of potential offender and female confederates in the role of victim (Hall & Hirschman, 1994; Hall, Hirschman, & Oliver, 1994; Pryor, 1987; Sinclair, Lee, & Johnson, 1995).
The person X situation model of sexually impositional behavior emphasizes the following:
1. Some men may have certain person factors (e.g., personality traits, beliefs and attitudes, physiological preferences, developmental characteristics) that make them more likely to sexually impose themselves than other men.
2. Certain situational factors (e.g., use of alcohol, decreased likelihood of being apprehended) facilitate the expression of sexually impositional behaviors.
3. Sexually impositional behavior is most likely to occur when these person and situational factors co-occur (Barongan & Hall, 1995; Gutek, 1985; Hall & Hirschman, 1991; Malamuth, 1986; McKenzie-Mohr & Zanna, 1990; Muehlenhard & Linton, 1987; Pryor & Whalen, 1997; Rapaport & Burkhart, 1984; Ullman, Karabatsos, & Koss, 1999).
The various behaviors along the continuum of sexual imposition may have different person and situational factors associated with them. For example, there may be different person and situational factors associated with a supervisor who offers advancement to an employee in exchange for sexual intercourse than with a man who makes repeated sexual advances to a colleague despite repeated rejections. In a series of laboratory-based experiments of the person X situation model of sexual imposition (Pryor, 1987; Pryor, Giedd, & Williams, 1995; Pryor, LaVite, & Stoller, 1993), it was found that sexually harassing behavior was linked to dispositional proclivities and social situations that condoned such behaviors.
The role of peer modeling as a situational factor in the person X situation model can be understood within the context of social comparison theory. Social comparison theory posits that people attempt to use available social cues to assess how they should react in ambiguous situations (Festinger, 1955; Sinclair et al., 1995). …