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Perceptions of Sexual Assault: The Expression of Gender Differences and the Impact of Target Alcohol Consumption1


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    The research reported herein was supported by research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to the second and third authors.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Marc Klippenstine, Department of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3. E-mail:


This research examined the impact of defendant/complainant alcohol consumption and prior sexual history evidence on mock jurors' evaluations of a sexual assault trial. Participants (N = 196) were provided with a simulated trial in which the beverage consumption of both targets and the sexual history between them was manipulated. The results displayed a complex interplay between target beverage consumption and gender of participant. Typically observed gender effects—that is, women, compared to men, were more supportive of the complainant and less supportive of the defendant—was contingent upon target beverage consumption. Depending on how aggressive participants perceived the defendant to be, women were more sympathetic to the complainant, with this being contingent upon complainants' and defendants' beverage consumption.