Attitudes about rape and sex from first to fourth year in college: Greeks vs. independents

Wendy A Whitman, University of Pennsylvania


This study examined the culturally reinforced beliefs and attitudes which may allow or even encourage sexual aggression, particularly on college campuses. Rape Callous Attitudes or rape myths (Burt, 1980) are widely accepted in Western culture, but appear to be held more strongly by (potentially) sexually aggressive people. Since research indicates that Greek college men tend to be more sexually aggressive than their Independent counterparts, it was expected that acceptance of Rape Callous Attitudes would be held more strongly by Greeks than Independents. Additionally, Kanin (1984; 1985) has argued that sexually aggressive college men experience "hypererotic" socialization, which encourages frequent sexual activity as an important part of masculine identity. The present study examined how 303 University of Pennsylvania undergraduates' acceptance of Rape Callous Attitudes, Hypererotic Sexual Socialization, and Sexual Experience changed over four years of college, and whether or not Greeks could be distinguished from Independents. Two-way and repeated measures ANOVAS were used to analyze the data. Correlational Relationships between variables were also examined. Results show that all participant groups reported significantly less endorsement of Rape Callous Attitudes and significantly increased Sexual Experience over four years of college. There was no distinction between Greeks and Independents on those measures. Greeks were significantly higher than Independents in Hypererotic Sexual Socialization. Men consistently scored significantly higher than women on all three scales. Levels of Hypererotic Sexual Socialization remained essentially even for all participants. Results were discussed in relation to the specific University population and setting, as well as recent reaction to a number of sexually coercive events on campus. Implications for universities and suggestions for further research were also discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Psychology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Whitman, Wendy A, "Attitudes about rape and sex from first to fourth year in college: Greeks vs. independents" (1994). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9503851.