Attributing sexual consent

Grace Y. Lim, Michael E. Roloff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Women are more likely to be sexually victimized by their dating partners or acquaintances than by strangers. In part, unwanted sexual intercourse results from misinterpreted sexual consent. To address this problem, scholars and policy makers have focused on how sexual communication might be improved. This paper conceives of sexual consent as knowing and voluntary agreement to have sexual intercourse. To understand how sexual consent is attributed, we examine the relative impact of nonverbal, verbal, and contextual cues on perceptions of impaired judgment, coercion, consent, appropriateness of sexual intercourse, and rape. Our data indicate that verbal statements produce clearer perceptions of consent than do nonverbal actions. Rarely do contextual cues cause linguistic cues to be discounted. Males and females differ significantly in their judgments of coercion and the appropriateness of sexual intercourse but do not differ significantly with regard to perceived consent or rape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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