Explicit, Voluntary, and Conscious: Assessment of the Importance of Adopting an Affirmative Consent Definition for Sexual Assault Prevention Programming on College Campuses

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Sexual assault is a major concern on college campuses. Some colleges and universities adopt and educate their students using an affirmative consent standard, such that for a sexual encounter to be considered consensual (and thus not an act of sexual assault), it must include explicit, voluntary, and conscious agreement to engage in sexual activity by all parties involved. The current study sought to examine the extent to which accurate knowledge and understanding of affirmative sexual consent may explain college students' intentions to engage in affirmative sexual consent communication, alongside other influential predictors, as proposed by the Integrated Behavioral Model. Results indicated that while college students who were more likely to define sexual consent based upon an affirmative consent definition were also more likely to intend to engage in affirmative sexual consent communication, it was ultimately the ability to apply that knowledge to a variety of sexual situations that predicted behavioral intentions, alongside positive attitudes about and perceived behavioral control to engage in the behavior. Colleges and universities must therefore not only inform their students about the definition of affirmative sexual consent, they must also provide them with situational knowledge about how and when to engage in affirmative sexual consent communication, as well as improve students’ related attitudes and perceived behavioral control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Health Communication
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences

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