Date of Award
Master of Science in Psychology
First Reader/Committee Chair
The overarching goal of the present thesis was to study women’s perceptions of sexual assault perpetrators and how those perceptions relate to fear of sexual assault. Previous researchers have developed a substantial literature on predictors and correlates of sexual assault perpetration. What is not known is how accurate women’s perceptions are of these predictors. Rationale from both evolutionary mismatch theory and social psychological stereotype theory suggests that women’s perceptions may be inaccurate. In the present thesis, I tested a set of hypotheses designed to examine individual differences in women’s perceptions of sexual assault perpetrators and how these perceptions relate to fear of rape. A total of 128 women completed a survey assessing their perceptions of characteristics of sexual assault perpetrators, their fears about sexual assault, their perceived risk of sexual assault, and their previous sexual assault related experiences. Results indicated that women’s perceptions of perpetrator characteristics were generally inaccurate. Furthermore, women’s overall level of accuracy was not predictive of their fear nor risk of stranger or acquaintance rape. However, women’s perceived risk of either stranger or acquaintance rape was predictive of their fear of each respective assault. These findings provide evidence for both evolutionary mismatch theory and social psychological stereotype theory. Implications regarding women’s sexual assault education and fear reduction are discussed.
Cisneros, Aaron George, "Women's Perceptions of Sexual Assault Perpetrators and Fear of Rape" (2019). Electronic Theses, Projects, and Dissertations. 920.