215387 Factors shaping college students' perceptions of appropriateness or legality of sexual encounters

Monday, November 8, 2010

Leigh Ann Bynum, MS , Pharmacy Administration, University of Mississippi, University, MS
Benjamin Banahan, PhD , Pharmacy Administration, University of Mississippi, University, MS
Ashley Thompson, MA , Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services, University of Mississippi, University, MS
Background: Research has identified college campuses as a prime setting for sexual violence. This study complements and adds to the understanding of how consent and other factors affect perceptions about legality and appropriateness of sexual activity in the college student population. Objective: To describe how consent and other factors affect perceptions of appropriateness and legality of sexual activity among college students. Methods: Focus groups were conducted to explore students' perceptions about sexual behavior. From this information a web-based survey was created that included a conjoint study in which four factors (victim gender, level of consent, level of alcohol involvement, and level of intentional impairment) were varied to create nine different sexual encounter scenarios. Respondents rated appropriateness and legality of each scenario using a 100-point scale. All students enrolled in fall 2009 were contacted by e-mail to participate in the survey. Conjoint analysis was used to estimate the relative importance of the factors for each respondent and cluster analysis was used to identify sub-groups of students based on their perceptions.

Results: Three sub-groups of students were identified based on primary factors driving perceptions. Groups were labeled “consent”, “balance of all factors”, and “gender of the alleged victim”. The findings indicate that males tend to be more consent driven while females tend to more often consider all factors. Conclusions: Distinctly different sub-groups of students exist. Education and preventative efforts need to address the differences in how perceptions are formed and be varied in presentation and focus to address these differences.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe the attitudes of college student regarding consent and appropriateness/legality of a sexual encounter. Identify unique sub-groups of students in order to develop group-specific education/intervention programs.

Keywords: Sexual Assault, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author because as a student, I conducted the research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.