Category: Women's Issues / Gender
Objective: Pregaming, or drinking prior to going out, is a common phenomenon on college campuses that increases risks for alcohol related negative experiences, including unwanted sexual experiences (LaBrie & Pederson, 2008). A study of sexual assault prevalence rates (Muehlenhard et al., 2016) across 27 universities found that 13% to 30% of college females have experienced sexual assault. These findings are consistent with increased alcohol consumption, and the potential detrimental effect drinking has on the sexual consent process (Muehlenhard et al., 2016). Another variable that increases risk for sexual victimization is history of sexual assault (Testa et al., 2010). The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between previous sexual experiences and pregaming behaviors related to possible interactions with romantic interests.
Method: Heterosexual female undergraduates (N = 260; age: M = 18.48 SD = .815; ethnicity: 86.3% Caucasian, 3.1% African American, 3.1% Asian American, 2.7% Hispanic or Latina, 2.7% Multiethnic, 1.5% No response) were recruited from a student participant pool at a southeastern U.S. university. Participants read a scenario in which they imagined themselves preparing to attend a party they know a potential male romantic interest would attend. They then estimated how much alcohol they would consume prior to the party. Further, participants were asked to report their history of sexual experiences including mutually wanted, ambivalent, and unwanted experiences, and their frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption in the last 90 days. We hypothesized that a higher frequency of unwanted experiences would be associated with higher reported drinking levels, especially pregaming drinking.
Results: We used a hierarchical regression to test if quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption and a history of unwanted sexual experiences significantly predicted pregame drinking behavior before encountering their romantic interest. The regression revealed at Stage one average 90-day quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption accounted for 32% of the variance R2 = .32, F(2, 257) = 59.44, p < .001. Adding history of unwanted sexual experiences at Stage two, added significantly to the variance accounted for R2 = .33, F(1, 256) = 3.75, p < .05.
Discussion: Findings suggest those with a history of unwanted sexual experiences also are likely to engage in heavier pregame drinking, putting them at risk for further sexual coercion.