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Behav Ther. 2011 Sep;42(3):475-84. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2010.11.005. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Assessing women's responses to sexual threat: validity of a virtual role-play procedure.

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Department of Psychology, Southern Methodist University, PO Box 750442, Dallas, TX 75275-0442, USA.


This study evaluated the validity of a role-play procedure that uses virtual reality technology to assess women's responses to sexual threat. Forty-eight female undergraduate students were randomly assigned to either a standard, face-to-face role-play (RP) or a virtual role-play (VRP) of a sexually coercive situation. A multimethod assessment strategy was used to evaluate the efficacy of the role-play procedure in creating a realistic and immersive situation. Consistent with our hypotheses, women in the VRP condition exhibited greater negative affect and immersion than women in the RP condition. In addition, the level of assertive refusal in the VRP, but not the RP, condition differentiated between women with and without a prior history of sexual victimization. These findings provide evidence of the validity of a virtual role-play procedure for assessing women's responses in sexually threatening situations.

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