College women's fear of sexual assault

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Clive M. Davis


women students

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology | Social Psychology


A modified version of Day's (1994) model of fear of sexual assault on campus which included background factors, personality factors, experiential factors, and factors that deal with perceptions of the campus environment was examined. A series of questionnaires designed to assess these factors was administered to a sample of 154 college women. Participants with stronger rape beliefs (i.e., believed that there was a higher likelihood of sexual assault occurring and that sexual assault offenses were very serious) lived on or near campus for a shorter amount of time and experienced more severe levels of victimization than those with weaker rape beliefs. A study was conducted to determine if rape beliefs could be used to predict the level of expected fear participants reported in situations that differed in risk. Contrary to prediction, participants with strong rape beliefs did not react with relatively greater increases in expected fear as the riskiness of the situation increased compared to participants with weak rape beliefs, except in the low risk situation. Also contrary to prediction, rape beliefs and expected fear scores correlated stronger for those participants with no sexual victimization history rather than for those participants with sexual victimization experience.