A contract of consent: A test of miscommunication and enthusiastic consent theories in sex work

McCallum, Madeleine (2015). A contract of consent: A test of miscommunication and enthusiastic consent theories in sex work Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author McCallum, Madeleine
Thesis Title A contract of consent: A test of miscommunication and enthusiastic consent theories in sex work
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2015-10-07
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Barbara Masser
Total pages 106
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Formatted abstract
Sexual assault between acquaintances represents a pervasive but chronically under-reported issue in Australia. Miscommunication Theory attributes this phenomenon to a breakdown in the effective communication of consent between male and female partners. Enthusiastic Consent has been subsequently introduced to address these issues of miscommunication by defining consent as an explicit, non-coerced and ongoing agreement. However, debate currently persists regarding the practicality and effectiveness of this definition of consent in light of competing evidence regarding men and women’s reliance on contextual, rather than explicit consent cues. This study therefore used the context of sex-work to simultaneously manipulate explicit consent, the exchange of payment, and contextual consent, the presence of physical resistance, and examine their competing influence on perceptions of consent within a possible sexual assault. Participants (N = 192) were asked to read a hypothetical vignette describing a possible sexual assault occurring between a sex-worker and her client, before completing composite measures of: perceived consent, and victim and perpetrator responsibility. As predicted, the encounter was considered significantly more consensual when consent was explicitly given, rather than explicitly denied. Additionally, as predicted, participants believed the encounter was significantly less consensual, when the victim displayed physical resistance rather than displaying no resistance. Contrary to predictions, when explicit consent was ambiguous, participants considered the encounter to be similarly non-consensual to when consent was explicitly denied. These results offer preliminary support for Enthusiastic Consent as a tenable solution to rates of acquaintance sexual assault, while actively contradicting many of the assertions of Miscommunication Theory. Possible future research that could extend the validity of these findings and the application of Enthusiastic Consent is discussed.
Keyword Miscommunication
Sex work

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Created: Wed, 06 Apr 2016, 15:46:49 EST by Lisa Perry on behalf of School of Psychology