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J Stud Alcohol. 2003 Sep;64(5):669-77.

Alcohol's effects on perceptions of a potential date rape.

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Department of Community Medicine and Psychology, Wayne State University, 4201 St. Antoine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.



The effects of alcohol consumption, alcohol expectancy set and self-reported alcohol expectancies on college students' perceptions of a potential date rape situation were examined. It was hypothesized that the effects of alcohol consumption on perceptions of the likelihood of forced sex would be mediated by cognitive factors and perceived sexual arousal.


90 female and 90 male college students were randomly assigned to drink alcohol, a placebo beverage, or a nonalcoholic beverage. Participants read a story about a couple that had been drinking together at a party. The story ended with the woman saying "no" to sexual intercourse and the man exerting verbal pressure.


Participants' alcohol consumption during the study, self-reported alcohol expectancies, attitudes about casual sex and usual drinking on dates had significant effects on their perceptions of the story. Participants' alcohol expectancy set and gender did not have significant effects on perceptions of the likelihood that the male character would force the female character to have sex.


Intoxicated participants perceived the woman in the vignette as being more sexually arousedand the man in the vignette as behaving more appropriately, and both of these variables were negatively related to ratings of how likely it was that forced sex would occur. These findings highlight the importance of mediating cues in intoxicated decision making.

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