Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Compare and contrast

Floppy brimmed beige sunhat gratefully tipped to reader KimV who emailed me about this.

Here's a tale of two stories.

Story the First - in the form of a media statement from academics who had conducted research on the factors making acquaintance rape more prevalent than stranger rape:
Promiscuous men more likely to rape

Study by Leicester psychologists presented at conference

Issued on 23 June 2009

This is one of the findings of Sophia Shaw and colleagues from the University of Leicester who will present their research at the British Psychological Society Division of Forensic Psychology Annual Conference today, Tuesday 23rd June, at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston.

First, 101 men aged between 18 and 70 completed questionnaires regarding their sexual history, personality and aggression. They were then asked to imagine themselves in different scenarios with one woman but varying her dress, how much alcohol she had drank, how assertive she was and how many previous sexual partners she had.

Men who considered themselves sexually experienced were willing to coerce the woman to a later stage in the scenario than those with less sexual experience. These men also reported that they found resistance from a woman sexually arousing.

Alcohol, however, had the opposite effect than predicted, with participants more likely to coerce women who were sober rather than drunk.

Sophia explained: "Previous research has suggested that women are more likely to be raped by someone they know, yet they fear rape by strangers more. This study was concerned with examining the factors that lead men to have a greater likelihood to commit rape in scenarios involving a woman who was an acquaintance."

"We can see from the results that sexually experienced men are more likely to coerce women in sexual situations; even more so if they believe the women to be sexually experienced."
And then the UK media reported on this research, creating Story the Second, in the Telegraph's science and environment section. Can you guess where it went?
Women who dress provocatively more likely to be raped, claim scientists
The way women dress, how flirtatious they are and their levels of drunkenness really do have an effect on the likelihood of them being raped, claim scientists.

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Published: 7:00AM BST 23 Jun 2009

Psychologists found that all three factors had a bearing on how far men were likely to go to take advantage of the opposite sex.

They found that the skimpier the dress and the more flirtatious the woman, the less likely a suitor was to take no for an answer.

But, contrary to popular opinion, alcohol consumption did dampen their ardour with many men claiming that they were put off by a woman who was drunk.

Sophia Shaw at the University of Leicester said that men showed a “surprising” propensity to coerce women into sex, especially those that were considered promiscuous.

“The research seems to show that men are not so much charming women into bed as coercing them,” she said. “I was quite surprised how far ordinary men were prepared to go.”

Miss Shaw and her team, who present their results at the Forensic Psychology Annual conference run by the British Psychological Society, recruited 101 men, aged 18 to 70, from their university and local rugby and football clubs.

First they completed questionnaires regarding their sexual history, personality and aggression to assess how promiscuous they were.

They were then asked to imagine various scenarios involving them meeting a woman in a nightclub and then eventually leaving with her. For each scenario the woman’s dress, drunkenness, flirtatiousness and previous sexual history were altered.

Using a sliding scale of sexual coercion from one to 27 where one was being allowed to enter the women’s house to 27 being rape, they assessed how far men would go before “calling it a night”.

Amazingly many men, especially promiscuous men, admitted they were go to within a point of rape before realising the girl was not interested in sex. That was even though at point 19 she had already said she felt “uncomfortable” and thought things were “going too fast”.

Of the promiscuous men 35 per cent said they would get to level 24, although only five per cent of inexperienced men said they would do the same.
But we're living in a post-feminist society right? /sarcasm


Anonymous said...

Richard Alleyne has written other poor science articles before. Someone should write his boss a letter.

KimV said...

Further analysis by Ben Goldacre, Bad Science blogger at the Guardian He actually bothered to ring Sophia Shaw, who turned out to be an MSc student, not that you'd know that from the Telegraph's article.

KimV said...

Further to that, the Telegraph article has quietly disappeared. No word on how or why so far...

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