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Valar Qringaomis

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Complexity of Consent

Sexual Consent in Heterosexual Relationships: Development of a New Measure

"Hall (1998) examined the giving of sexual consent in day-to-day sexual interactions involving both coital and non-coital sexual behaviors. In his sample of 310 sexually active heterosexual college students, Hall found that sexual behaviors usually occurred without overt consent being given. Permission giving was reported most frequently when the behavior in question was vaginal or anal intercourse. The rate of permission giving for other sexual behaviors (e.g., kissing, touching) was markedly lower. In addition, consent giving was most often nonverbal in nature, except for intercourse, for which consent was verbal about half of the time. Hall’s research suggests that there is a sliding scale of priority when it comes to making certain consent has been given. Sexual behaviors that are deemed more intimate are more likely to lead individuals to overtly negotiate consent...

There is a wide range of behavioral approaches used to signal sexual consent to a partner. Factor analysis revealed that sexual consent behaviors could be categorized as direct or indirect and verbal or nonverbal. Direct consent signals were defined as straightforward and unambiguous tactics (e.g., stating, “I want to have sex with you”) whereas indirect consent signals were more veiled and ambiguous tactics (e.g., “she/ he touches and kisses you”)...

Hall’s (1998) research suggested that there may be differences in consent based on the type of sexual behavior being negotiated. By focusing only on intercourse, the process of consent cannot be fully understood. Researchers also have not examined whether consent is situation specific. It is possible that inferring and conveying consent on a first date is very different than in a long-term relationship. For example, a smile in response to being asked “do you have a condom?” could indicate consent giving in an established relationship, but might indicate nervous apprehension on a first date...

Whether or not someone has experienced sexual intercourse seems to be a better predictor of consent attitudes and behaviors than current relationship status or the number of sexual intercourse partners...

Weak attitude–behavior consistency has been an issue of long standing interest in human sexuality and social psychology research (Baumeister and Tice 2001). The difficulty when trying to obtain high attitude– behavior consistency is that there are “plenty of immediate situational factors and pressures [that] can intervene between an attitude and a behavior.” (Baumeister and Tice 2001, p.136). In sexual contexts at college or university, one of the primary culprits is alcohol. Sexual consent behaviors do not occur in a vacuum and therefore the strictest or most cautious standards may not be followed when the complexity of the immediate sexual situation presents itself."
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