College women's fears and precautionary behaviors relating to acquaintance rape and stranger rape

Susan E. Hickman, Charlene L. Muehlenhard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

90 Scopus citations


Past research on women's fear of rape has focused on women's fears relating to stranger rape, even though most rapes are acquaintance rapes. In this study, 139 undergraduate women completed a questionnaire concerning their fears, precautionary behaviors, and beliefs relating to acquaintance and stranger rape. Women reported being more fearful of rape by strangers than by acquaintances, and they reported engaging in more precautionary behaviors because of fear of stranger rape than of acquaintance rape. When asked to self-generate situations in which they feared rape, they generated more situations in which they feared stranger rape than acquaintance rape. Paradoxically, they estimated that acquaintance rape was more common. Precautionary behaviors were best predicted by level of fear. A history of acquaintance rape had no effect on women's responses. Theoretical and educational implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-547
Number of pages21
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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