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Abstract

This study investigated sex differences of feelings attributed to a woman in situations involving varying degrees of coercion and sexual advances. Sixteen vignettes (12 dealing with sex and coercion, 4 dealing with coercion only) were rated on 17 semantic differential scales by 59 undergraduates (44 females, 15 males) and 45 graduate students (18 females, 27 males). The 16 vignettes yielded factors of Sexual Flattery/Overtures, Sexual Aggressiveness, and Violence. Factor analyses of the 17 semantic differential scales yielded factors of Helplessness, Aversiveness, and Threat. High agreement was found between males and females in both the graduate and undergraduate samples on the relative intensity of feelings attributed to the woman across the sex/coercion vignettes for the three dimensions of Helplessness, Aversiveness, and Threat. Even more importantly, systematic differences between males and females on intensity of attributed feelings across the semantic differential factors were independently replicated using the graduate and undergraduate samples. Analyses of variance revealed that males showed significantly greater attributions on the factors Helplessness and Threat on scenes mainly dealing with sexual flattery/overtures, whereas they showed significantly less attributions on the factor Aversiveness on scenes dealing with sexual aggressiveness and rape. In short, while there was strong agreement between men and women, there were also replicated significant systematic differences with men overestimating the psychological impact of less intense