Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sarah L. Cook - Chair

Second Advisor

Marci Culley

Third Advisor

Tracie Stewart


The effect of gender-neutral language in a survey designed to measure unwanted sexual experiences was examined. Methodological issues pertaining to survey design and significant variability in prevalence estimates of sexual violence demonstrate that further refinement of self-report instruments is necessary. As a variety of macrolevel forces influence individual behavior, the current study contends that coercive tactics used to obtain sex in mixed-gender interactions are normalized by the traditional heterosex script and conveyed through gender-specific language. Reference to respondents’ sexual partners in gender-neutral, as opposed to gender-specific terms, was hypothesized to result in more disclosure of sexually coercive victimization and perpetration experiences. Logistic regression analyses revealed no statistically significant differences in disclosure between language conditions. Null findings are interpreted with reference to the broader gender-neutral language literature and implications for future research are suggested.


Included in

Psychology Commons