Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Edelyn Verona, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Goldman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jamie Goldenberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ráchael Powers, Ph.D.


Sexual Coercion, Psychopathy, Sexual Motivation


Although evidence suggests that both men and women perpetrate sexual coercion, the majority of work has traditionally focused on men as perpetrators and women as victims. Psy-chological factors, including psychopathic traits and sexual motivations, have been proposed to characterize sexually coercive men. However, the sparse existing research using female samples suggests that these models may not adequately characterize female sexual coercers. In particular, although there is evidence that sexual motivations may mediate the relationship between psycho-pathic traits and coercion perpetration, there is a dearth of information regarding gender as a po-tential moderator of these mediating paths. To improve our understanding of these relationships, the current study examines a moderated mediation model in which sexual motivations mediate the relationship between psychopathic traits and sexual coercion, with gender as a potential mod-erator of these mediation effects. To achieve this goal, 868 undergraduate participants were re-cruited to take part in an online survey. Study aims were accomplished using a combination of regression and path analysis. Results implicated Factor 2 traits as particularly important to male-perpetrated but not female-perpetrated coercion, and that this relationship was partially mediated by sexual power motives. In sum, our results support a conceptual model of male perpetration where men who are high in Factor 2 traits (impulsivity and behavioral dyscontrol) may engage in sexual coercion in an attempt to feel powerful. These results and their implications are discussed in the context of men and women’s changing social roles, and how individual psychopathology may dovetail with social beliefs to generate sexually coercive behavior.