Date of Graduation

8-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Community Health Promotion (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Health, Human Performance and Recreation

Advisor

Kristen N. Jozkowski

Committee Member

Wen-Juo Lo

Second Committee Member

Heather D. Blunt-Vinti

Third Committee Member

Jacquelyn D. Mosley

Keywords

Health and environmental sciences; College students; Sexual behavior; Sexual consent

Abstract

Background. Preliminary qualitative research suggests some college students believe sexual consent can be communicated and interpreted in Social settings, such as parties or bars, and in contexts lacking face-to-face interaction like text messages and Social media content. Previous sexual consent researchers have described perceptions of consent that occur in Social settings as “outside the bedroom” consent. The belief that sexual consent can be interpreted from Social media content or that accepting an alcoholic beverage from someone at a bar is indicative of sexual consent is problematic and warrants further study. Current validated consent scales are limited and do not assess perceptions or beliefs regarding “outside the bedroom” consent as they primarily focus on consent that occurs in the moments right before sexual behavior occurs.

Purpose. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to develop and psychometrically assess two sexual consent scales that measure consent beliefs and consent perceptions respectively. The Social Media Consent Myths Scale (SMCMS) and the External Consent Scale – Revised (ECSR) were rigorously developed utilizing a multi-phase research design consisting of a mixed methods approach with three phases of data collection.

Methods. In Phase 1, college students (N=104) pilot-tested both measures, with a subset of students (n=10) recruited to provide qualitative feedback via focus groups. Phase 2 (N=75) comprised additional item refinement for both measures. Phase 3 (N=695) constituted psychometric assessment of the measures via reliability and validity analyses.

Results. Results provide support for the validity and reliability of both newly developed scales. The SMCMS measures endorsement of the belief that consent can be derived based on a person’s Social media content. The ECSR measures how a person communicated their consent during their most recent consensual sexual experience.

Conclusions. Both the SMCMS and ECSR are valid tools that can be used to assess college students’ beliefs and perceptions regarding consent in an effort to create sexual assault prevention education (SAPE) programs that are culturally relevant to students and address common false beliefs regarding consent. Additionally, these measures could be utilized as evaluative mechanisms to assess whether SAPE programs successfully change students’ consent beliefs and behaviors.

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