Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Monograph

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Psychology

Supervisor

Fisher, William A.

Abstract

This dissertation proposed an Information-Motivation-Behavioural Skills (IMB) model of affirmative sexual consent, which is consent that is ongoing, continuous, and clearly communicated. The overall objectives of the current dissertation research were to: 1) elicit — from young, sexually active individuals — information, motivation, and behavioural skills factors that are related to affirmative sexual consent behaviours; 2) develop and empirically test an Information–Motivation–Behavioural Skills (IMB) model of sexual consent and use this to examine the hypothesized relationships of affirmative consent-related information, motivation, and behavioural skills with affirmative consent behaviours; and 3) evaluate the psychometric properties of an IMB scale measuring affirmative consent-related information, motivation, behavioural skills, and behaviours. Three separate studies were conducted to achieve these objectives. Study 1 (N=48) consisted of qualitative elicitation research in a focus group setting to identify information, motivation, and behavioural skills factors that are relevant to expressing and seeking affirmative consent in sexual interactions. The findings of Study 1 elicitation research, in addition to extant research, guided item creation, item selection, and development of measures of sexual consent-related information, motivation, behavioural skills, and behaviour. Study 2 involved expert ratings of the IMB scale items and the administration of these items to a sample of university and community participants (N=624). Based on the results of Study 2, items were retained, deleted, or refined. Study 3 (N=1444) involved administering the final IMB items and individual difference scales to test the measurement and structural models of the IMB model of sexual consent and the scale’s psychometric properties, resulting in a final Information-Motivation-Behavioural Skills/Affirmative Sexual Consent (IMB/ASC) scale. The results of these studies suggest that the IMB model of consent is an excellent fit with the data. This dissertation can provide the basis for empirically-targeted interventions that mobilize sexual consent assets and target sexual consent deficits.

Summary for Lay Audience

Sexual assault — nonconsensual sexual interaction — has immense individual, societal, and economic costs and affects about 1 in 5 women between the ages of 15-24. In an attempt to advance sexual consent, reduce rates of sexual assault, and promote open sexual communication, legislative, judicial, educational, and administrative authorities have articulated the requirement for affirmative sexual consent, which requires ongoing, continuous, and clearly communicated consent to sexual activity. Current regulatory attempts to encourage affirmative sexual consent have often proven to be ineffective at reducing rates of sexual assault. The limited effectiveness of efforts to promote affirmative sexual consent may well derive from a lack of theoretical and empirically-supported understanding of factors that influence affirmative consent enactment. The current research applies the Information-Motivation-Behavioural Skills (IMB) model to sexual consent. This model specifies the significant influence of actionable information regarding the requirements of affirmative sexual consent, personal and social motivation to act on this information, and behavioural skills for effectively engaging in sexual consent behaviours. Three studies were conducted to develop and test an IMB model of sexual consent. Study 1 involved the elicitation of information, motivation, and behavioural skills factors that are related to affirmative sexual consent behaviours. Studies 2 and 3 involved developing and empirically testing an IMB-informed scale of sexual consent to examine scale properties and the hypothesized relationships of affirmative consent-related information, motivation, and behavioural skills with affirmative consent behaviours in a sample of young, sexually active individuals. The final stage of research involved evaluating the validity and reliability of this developed scale. This dissertation suggests that the IMB model is an excellent theoretical fit to guide our understanding of affirmative sexual consent seeking and expressing behaviours. Overall, the IMB model and the current research provides a comprehensive framework for understanding, predicting, and guiding the development of strategies for promoting sexual consent behaviours. This approach can guide effective public policy and sex education programming that may increase the performance of sexual consent behaviours and reduce sexual assault.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 18, 2021

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