Sexual Assault on College Campuses: A Behavioral Approach

Date: 

Thursday, February 8, 2018, 11:40am to 1:00pm

Location: 

Cason Seminar Room

Betsy Paluck, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs

Ana Gantman, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs 

Paluck and Gantman will present a behavioral perspective on campus sexual assault. Prominent models of sexual assault portray assault perpetrators as one of two extremes. In the clinical model, perpetrators are seen as unchangeable deviants. In the cultural model, perpetrators are a product of rape culture. The behavioral perspective allows us to analyze how individual psychological phenomena and environmental configurations interact, and drive patterns of sexual assault. For example, they analyze how different contexts activate perceived norms, goals, and moral language, which shifts the likelihood of assault. Based on this theoretical framework, Paluck and Gantman field-tested an intervention in Princeton University eating club parties. A student-driven initiative requiring party-goers to read aloud a definition of consent at the door was tested by varying the framing of the consent language and the identity of the person presenting the consent language. Paluck and Gantman present results and discuss lessons for the design, implementation, and research on the effects of university policy on sexual assault.