Who Counts What as Coercion? Demographic Variation in Perceptions of Sexual Victimization

Rebecca Johnson, Sociology

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 12:00pm
LAPA Conference Room, 348 Wallace Hall
Event Category: 
Graduate Students

RSVP requested: Click here.

LEGS, or "Law-Engaged Graduate Students," meets during the academic year to discuss a work in progress by one of our Graduate Associates. Academic papers, dissertation proposals, and dissertation chapters have been presented at these meetings, to an audience of fellow graduate students.

From Rebecca:  "The paper presents results from a pilot study that we are hoping to field to a nationally-representative sample soon. In the paper, we begin with the fact that many estimates of sexual victimization’s prevalence ask respondents to report on whether they have experienced abstract events like ``forced or coerced" intercourse. Previous research shows that these methods underestimate victimization’s prevalence, raising two questions. First, which coercive tactics do questions about forced or coerced intercourse miss? Second, is there demographic variation in this under-classification? We use a novel conjoint experiment to examine how respondent characteristics (race, gender, political views, educational attainment, etc.) interact with attributes of a sexual interaction (tactic perpetrator uses; race and gender of perpetrator and victim) to affect individuals' (1) continuous rating of the degree of consent and (2) binary categorization of the event as forced or coerced. Preliminary findings show that interactions that deviate from sexual assault’s prototype (female victim; male perpetrator; physical force) are categorized as less coercive. Meanwhile, across tactics, respondents with lower educational attainment rate the same events as less coercive. We're interested in the group's feedback on how to make sure the design reflects notions of coercion in criminal law."


Rebecca Johnson

Rebecca Johnson is a 5th year in Sociology and Demography. Her focus is on how ethics and law shape the allocation of scarce resources. Before Princeton, she worked on bioethics topics at the National Institutes of Health, which informs the present project's focus on lay conceptions of consent. The project is joint with Celeste Marin and Hannah Korevaar.