Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. R Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Marci Marroquin-Loiselle


It is estimated that approximately 1 in 4 college-aged women has been the victim of a date rape, and primary prevention is needed in order to reduce these high prevalence rates. Some sexual assault victims may have been unable to identify warning signals. A sexual assault is not the victim's fault, but this study attempted to educate potential victims of sexual assault: college-aged females. The purpose of this study was twofold: to determine whether signal detection theory is a valid theory with which to regard date rape and to determine whether training college-aged women who are at high-risk for being potentially victimized aids in reducing their signal detection errors and increases their level of discrimination in date rape scenarios. It was hypothesized that by improving signal detection skills, the risk of engaging in potentially at-risk behaviors will be reduced. The validity and accuracy of the date rape audiotaped scenarios, the primary measurement instrument for propensity to be potentially victimized, was established via expert and peer ratings. Phase I involved identifying high-risk females via long signal detection latencies as compared to expert ratings (>1 SD). Results indicated that subject's decision latencies were not significantly correlated with both the Sexual Experiences Survey (Spearman's rho = -.169; p = .108), and with the Acceptance of Interpersonal Violence (Spearman's rho = .138; p = .191). All high-risk subjects were retained for Phase II. This phase consisted of 2 groups: Experimental and control. The experimental group attended signal detection training, where subjects were guided through examples and non-examples of criminal sexual conduct, given Michigan laws, and taught to identify scenarios accurately. The control group did not receive this training. Both groups were then exposed to a parallel date rape audiotape and their decision latencies measured. One-week follow-up data measured treatment gains. Results were analyzed by a two tailed independent t test on pretest/posttest and pretest/follow-up gain scores and revealed significant group differences (p < .000) for both gain conditions. The results suggest that some high-risk college-aged women can be trained to mediate signal detection difficulties. By recognizing situations that can potentially result in date rape, high-risk women have the option of taking the necessary changes to halt such interactions. Debriefing information regarding counseling and support groups was provided to each participant in the study.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only