Psychology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

December 2004


Published in in Violence and Victims, 19:6 (December 2004), pp. 673–688. Copyright © 2004 Springer Publishing Company. Used by permission.


Sexual coercion is defined here as a form of male sexual misconduct in which nonphysical tactics (e.g., verbal pressure) are utilized to gain sexual contact with an unwilling female partner. This study compares the risk characteristics of sexually coercive (n = 81) and nonoffending college males (n = 223) across several domains. Results revealed that sexual coercers differed from nonoffenders in that they more often subscribed to rape myths, viewed interpersonal violence as more acceptable, reported greater hostility toward females, and perceived male-female relationships as more inherently adversarial. In addition, compared to nonoffenders, sexually coercive males showed stronger indicators of promiscuity and delinquency, reported more psychopathic personality traits, had more empathic deficits, and were more likely to have experienced certain forms of childhood abuse. In most respects, coercers did not differ from those who reported engaging in more severe forms of sexual assault involving the use of physical force. These results suggest important differences between nonoffending males and those who “cross the line” by engaging in sexually coercive acts. In addition, consistent parallels can be drawn between the predictors of sexual coercion identified in this study and those documented in the sexual aggression (e.g., forcible rape) literature.