Cognitive ecological model of sexual assault : cognitive appraisals of the social environment and risk recognition
Mercer, Mary Catherine
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This dissertation examined risk recognition of sexual assault within the Cognitive Ecological Model, with a focus on how the social environment impacted background factors and cognitive appraisals of a sexually risky situation. Participants completed the Marx and Gross audiotaped date-rape vignette and indicated if and when the man should refrain from making further sexual advances. In order to examine the impact of the social environment, participants completed the task alone, or with a same- or opposite- sex confederate. Cognitive appraisals of the task were taken at 4 time-points and examined self- and other- perceptions of the interaction. Hypotheses that cognitive appraisals would mediate the relationship between (a) sexual scripts and risk recognition, (b) gender and risk recognition, and (c) social environment and risk recognition were not supported. Gender and social environment did not independently risk recognition or cognitive appraisals; however, there was a marginally significant interaction. Research questions explored gendered effects of the social environment and found that female participants completing the task with a female confederate had longer response latencies than other conditions. Limitations and future directions are discussed.