Who Counts What as Consent? A New Approach to Understanding Estimates of the Prevalence of Sexual Victimization

Rebecca Johnson, Princeton University
Hannah Korevaar , Princeton University
Celeste Marin, Princeton University

Many estimates of sexual victimization’s prevalence ask respondents to report on whether they have experienced abstract events like ``forced or coerced" intercourse. Previous research shows that these methods underestimate victimization’s prevalence, raising two questions. First, which coercive tactics do questions about forced or coerced intercourse miss? Second, is there demographic variation in this under-classification? The present study uses a novel conjoint experiment to examine how respondent characteristics (race, gender, political views, educational attainment, etc.) interact with attributes of a sexual interaction (tactic perpetrator uses; race and gender of perpetrator and victim) to affect individuals' (1) continuous rating of the degree of consent and (2) binary categorization of the event as forced or coerced. Preliminary findings show that interactions that deviate from sexual assault’s prototype (female victim; male perpetrator; physical force) are categorized as less coercive. Meanwhile, across tactics, respondents with lower educational attainment rate the same events as less coercive.

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 Presented in Session 68. Capturing Hard-to-Measure Outcomes in Sexual and Reproductive Health