Objective: Two studies, based on an alcohol myopia model, were designed to understand the role of women’s alcohol consumption on vulnerability to sexual assault. We predicted that, in a high-conflict social situation, alcohol would make it more difficult to recognize sexual assault risk, lowering intentions to resist sexual advances.
Method: In Study 1, women (N = 51) were recruited in bars and classified as having a high (.06 or greater) breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) or low BrAC. They were asked to project themselves into a hypothetical scenario that portrayed interest in establishing an intimate relationship and included mild sexual aggression. In Study 2. women (N = 101) were randomly assigned to an alcohol (target BrAC: .08%), placebo, or no-alcohol condition. They responded at two time points to a similar hypothetical scenario that described mild sexual aggression (Time 1) and serious sexual aggression (Time 2).
Results: In Study 1, women with higher BrAC perceived less risk in the scenario and anticipated less resistance than women with low BrAC. In Study 2, similiar results were found but only following serious aggression. There were no placebo effects. Both studies suggest that effects of alcohol on resistance are partially mediated via risk perceptions.
Conclusions: Alcohol appears in reduce intentions to resist sexual advances from an acquaintance while increasing intentions to pursue relationship-enhancing behaviors. Effects are not completely explained by an alcohol myopia perspective. Differences in findings between the two studies may reflect differences in methodology, context, or sample.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Testa, M., VanZile-Tamsen, C., Livingston, J. A., & Buddie, A. (2006). The role of women's alcohol consumption in managing sexual intimacy and sexual safety motives. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 67 (5), 665-674.