Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute

Alcohol’s Influence on Women’s Cognitive Appraisals of Sexual Assault Risk and Subsequent Responses

Sexual assault by acquaintances is a serious problem for young women. Approximately 1 in 4 experience either rape or attempted rape, the overwhelming majority of which are committed by acquaintances. Alcohol consumption by the victim, assailant or both is involved in more than half.

One key element of sexual assault prevention is early perception of risk, which enables women to respond effectively and extricate herself from the situation before it escalates. In assessing risk and responding to it, women make a series of primary and secondary cognitive appraisals. Both women’s own alcohol consumption and their perception of the assailant’s consumption can affect this cognitive appraisal process.

This study investigated alcohol’s physiological effects on women’s primary and secondary cognitive appraisals to a sexual assault scenario and subsequent responses. Findings have implications for designing prevention interventions, especially related to alcohol’s role as a risk factor for sexual assault.


Jeanette Norris, PhD

Fund Information

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI)
Status: completed