Neil M. Malamuth and James V. P. Check
The present experiment is part of a series of studies focusing on college students' responses to rape stimuli. 1 The impetus for this research program comes from two important areas of theorizing and research. The first is the work of Gene Abel and his colleagues on developing objective assessment techniques for use in the treatment of rapists. The second area is the writings of feminists on the subject of sexual violence.
Abel, Barlow, Blanchard, and Guild ( 1977) report clear differences between the sexual responsiveness of rapists and non-rapists to portrayals of sexual assault. Whereas rapists in their sample evidenced high levels of penile tumescence to audio-taped portrayals of both rape and consenting sexual acts, the non-rapist comparison group showed substantial sexual arousal to the mutually-consenting depictions only. These investigators therefore suggest that sexual responsiveness to the depiction of sexual violence relative to sexual arousal to consenting themes serves as a measure of the "proclivity to rape" that can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of rapists. (See also Abel, Blanchard, and Becker, 1976; 1978). The question of what is or is not sexually arousing to "normals" is therefore not
Reprinted from the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 10, No. 6 ( 1981), pp. 528-547. Reprinted by permission of V. H. Winston and Sons and Neil M. Malamuth.