A large body of research has found a concerning prevalence rate of sexual coercion in heterosexual college student dating relationships; however, little research has examined how college students perceive and interpret these behaviors. In this study we examined the impact of initiator gender and sexually coercive strategy (verbal pressure, purposeful intoxication, physical force, or control/mutual consent) on perceptions of the aggressor, victim, behavior, and relationship quality. Results indicated that men who coerce are viewed as aggressive; women who coerce are viewed as promiscuous. Targets of sexual coercion are not perceived as experiencing high levels of victimization following the incident. These findings suggest that college students do not perceive sexually coercive behaviors to be highly problematic. The results are discussed in terms of gender roles and practical implications for college student relationships.
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