Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Environmental Science (MS)

Degree Level



General Human Environmental Sciences


Jacquelyn Wiersma

Committee Member

Kristen Jozkowski

Second Committee Member

Timothy Killian


Rape Myth Acceptance, Sexual Consent, Young Adults


Rape and sexual assault are problematic issues for women on college campuses. Internal and external consent play a role in understanding sexual assault because sexual assault is defined as "nonconsensual sexual activity obtained through force, threats, intoxication, or intimidation." Factors related to understanding consent may include attitudes regarding sexual assault and rape, known as rape myths, which are defined as attitudes and false statements concerning rape that are widely known and accepted, mainly served to justify male sexual aggression towards women. The southeastern United States is known for being religiously and politically conservative, where gender roles are intertwined with a more traditional sexual script. Gaining additional understanding from the use of Bronfenbrenner's Human Ecological Theory, the purpose of this study was to recognize the association between rape myth acceptance and the use of internal and external consent measures in 831 college students in the southeastern region of the United States. Men were found to have higher rape myth acceptance, and also reported using more specific external consent cues related to direct nonverbal behavior and borderline pressure compared to women. Women who reported lower acceptance of rape myths also reported using more external explicit consent cues such as communication/initiator behaviors. Future research should continue to examine consent because of the importance in sexual assault discussions. This study showed that rape myth acceptance does play a role in consent behaviors, and if attitudes regarding sexual assault change, the occurrence of sexual assault can potentially change as well.