Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Edelyn Verona, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Bosson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Goldman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ráchael Powers, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Diana Rancourt, Ph.D.


Competition, Masculinity, Psychopathy, Sexual Coercion


Sexual aggression (SA) is a serious social problem that has been linked to a variety of negative physical and mental health outcomes for survivors and produces significant monetary costs to society. In the past five decades, a wealth of research has improved our understanding of the individual and sociocultural factors that contribute to SA perpetration; however, epistemological differences in theoretical approaches to the subject (i.e., evolutionary, feminist) have resulted in gaps in the empirical literature. Informed by both feminist and evolutionary perspectives, this study attempts to examine the ways in which same-gender interpersonal interactions and individual psychopathology interact to produce SA behavior, assessed using a laboratory analog, among heterosexual cismale undergraduate students. Specifically, I sought to test a model in which psychopathic traits moderate relationships between change in inter-male social status (i.e., win or loss in a competition with another man) and SA perpetration. Results suggest multiple pathways to SA perpetration, with the strongest evidence suggesting that persons high in interpersonal-affective psychopathic traits are more likely to engage in SA following a competition win. Results are discussed in the context of both feminist and evolutionary theories of SA, and emphasize the importance of both individual-level variables and interpersonal social contexts in shaping SA behavior.