Research on sexual coercion has revealed a beauty bias in that participants judge coercive sexual advances committed by attractive individuals as more acceptable than coercive advances committed by unattractive individuals. In this study, we examined the extent to which there exists a similar socioeconomic status bias in people's perceptions. Participants (N = 160) read 1 of 8 vignettes that depicted sexual advances and responded to several questions about the acceptability of the initiator's behavior. The coerciveness of the advance was manipulated by varying whether the touch occurred in a gentle manner with no threat or in a forceful manner with a threat of harm. Male participants always received a vignette that portrayed a woman initiating a sexual advance, and female participants always received a vignette that portrayed a man initiating a sexual advance. Socioeconomic status of the initiator was manipulated by what type of clothing he/she wore (shabby or expensive) and the car he/she drove (old or new). Results indicated that a gentle touch was more acceptable than a forceful touch, and men found sexual advances more acceptable than did women. Participants rated sexual advances by wealthy individuals as more acceptable than sexual advances by poor individuals. However, the greater acceptability of advances by wealthy individuals appeared to hold up only in the case of a gentle touch. In addition, men appeared to be more prone to the socioeconomic status bias than were women. Methodological limitations and future directions are discussed.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 28, 2004
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