Join the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship for an insightful webinar with Dr Veronica Lamarche.
Dr Veronica Lamarche (Department of Psychology) is a social-personality psychologist and relationship researcher at the University of Essex. Her work focuses on understanding how people balance their need for connection against their need to protect themselves from harm. She consequently examines how people balance trust and dependence in their romantic relationships during periods of vulnerability and uncertainty. More recently, Veronica has been interested in understanding how these dynamics influence consent and sexual victimisation within a relationship context.
The endorsement and acceptance of sexual coercion significantly contributes to the global problem of sexual victimization. This research aimed to understand better understand how dispositional and situational factors predict when people may endorse sexual coercive strategies against a sexual partner. In particular, we were examined how personality traits that make people sensitive to rejection (i.e., self-esteem) and predisposed to non-communal attitudes (i.e., narcissism) interact with a situational factor perceived social rejection to predict when people endorse the use of sexual coercion. Participants in two online studies (Ntotal=740), completed background measures including the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Narcissistic Admiration and Rivalry Questionnaire.
Next, participants were randomly assigned to write about a recent incident of rejection or acceptance by a close other. Finally, endorsement of sexual coercion was measured using a questionnaire. Consistent with predictions, in both studies, single (but not romantically attached) people with high narcissism and low self-esteem were more likely to endorse sexual coercion following reminders of rejection by close others. Furthermore, these patterns were stronger for men than for women. These findings demonstrate that personality and situational factors interact to predict endorsement of sexual coercion, and that focusing on either alone might obscure the path to understanding the “whos” and “whens” of sexual assault.