Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)
Lindsay S. Ham
Ana J. Bridges
Second Committee Member
Ellen W. Leen-Feldner
Alcohol use and abuse among emerging adults is highly correlated with increased risk for sexual victimization. Alcohol myopia theory has been used to explain impairments in social information processing resulting in decreased attention to environmental social cues including risk factors for sexual assault as well as facial emotional recognition. Those with deficits in social information processing may be at particular risk for the misperception of salient risk factors for sexual assault by victims, perpetrators, and bystanders when intoxicated. In this naturalistic field study, participants who had been consuming alcohol were recruited to engage in tasks of facial emotion recognition and sexual assault risk detection. Participants listened to a vignette depicting a hypothetical sexual assault and provided ratings assessing the women’s desire to have sex, perceptions of consent, assessment of man’s and woman’s responsibility, and the approval of the behavior in the scenario. Breath alcohol concentration was measured at the conclusion of the study. Bivariate correlations revealed breath alcohol intoxication was negatively related to facial emotion identification. Hypotheses related to the moderation of the BAC and risk detection relationship by emotion identification were not supported. Important sex differences emerged such that women displayed on average, greater ability to identify risk in the hypothetical sexual assault scenario. Future research should seek to isolate the differences in the effects of alcohol on social information processing and specifically to sexual assault risk detection between men and women to inform prevention and bystander intervention programs.
Melkonian, Alexander James, "The Effects of Alcohol on the Interpretation of Social and Emotional Cues: A Field Study of College Student Drinking, Emotion Recognition, and Perceptions of a Hypothetical Sexual Assault" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 1288.