Sexually aggressive and nonaggressive men: sexual arousal and judgments in response to acquaintance rape and consensual analogues

J Abnorm Psychol. 1999 Nov;108(4):662-73. doi: 10.1037//0021-843x.108.4.662.


Self-identified sexually aggressive (SA) and nonaggressive (NA) college men listened to audiotape analogues of consensual sexual intercourse and acquaintance rape. Phallometric and decision-latency methodology was used to examine sexual arousal and decisions to stop sexual advances in each scenario. Both groups showed increases in penile response to the consensual scenario. Consistent with the inhibition model of sexual aggression, the SA group showed greater sexual arousal and failed to inhibit responding when force was introduced in the rape, whereas the NA group exhibited less arousal and greater inhibition to force. The SA group allowed the rape to continue significantly longer than the NA group. These effects were greatly magnified in SA men who endorsed high calloused sexual beliefs, implying that a cognitive set that justifies sexual aggression and lacks victim empathy may disinhibit sexual arousal and potentiate coercive decision making.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Male
  • Penile Erection / physiology
  • Rape*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*