Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Department of Graduate Psychology

Advisor(s)

Tracy Zinn

Abstract

The high rate of sexual assault on college campuses has become a growing concern among college administrators. To combat the prevalence of sexual assault, colleges and universities have begun implementing mandatory bystander intervention training programs, which teach students to look for warning signs indicative of sexual assault and intervene before an assault occurs. Previous research has indicated that an individual’s endorsement of rape myths may play a role in whether or not that individual will intervene in a situation that may lead to sexual assault; however, little research has investigated from where beliefs in rape myths might stem. Sex educators have asserted that the cultural conception of sex, best defined as a “commodity model”, introduces a narrative surrounding sex that legitimizes and normalizes rape myths.

This study sought to quantify adherence to the commodity model of sex through the development of a Commodity Model of Sex Scale, and to identify whether adherence to the commodity model of sex and belief in rape myths could be used to predict participants’ attitudes towards intervening in situations that may lead to sexual assault. Results indicated a moderately strong correlation between rape myth acceptance and endorsement of the commodity model of sex, and that rape myth acceptance most strongly predicted bystander attitudes, given the predictors in the model. Implications of this finding for bystander intervention training and sex education curricula are discussed.

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