Sexual Situation Questionnaire

Sexual Situation Questionnaire‌

E. SANDRA BYERS,AND LUCIA F. O’SULLIVANUniversity of New Brunswick

The Sexual Situation Questionnaire (SSQ) measures behavior during interactions in which heterosexual dating partners disagree about the level of sexual intimacy in which they desire to engage (Byers & Lewis, 1988; O’Sullivan & Byers, 1993; O’Sullivan & Byers, 1996). It also assesses coercive and noncoercive behaviors individuals use to influence a reluctant partner to engage in the disputed sexual activity. Parallel forms measure disagreement situations in which the male or the female is the reluctant partner and differ only in the pronouns used to designate the initiating and the reluctant partner. The term sexual activity is defined to include all activities that the subjects experience as sexual, ranging from holding hands and kissing to sexual intercourse. Dating is defined broadly as any social situation in which the respondent was with a member of the other sex, even if it was not part of what they would consider to be a true date. The SSQ could easily be adapted to assess same-sex sexual interactions.

Description

The SSQ can be administered retrospectively (O’Sullivan & Byers, 1993, 1996) or as a self-monitoring device (Byers & Lewis, 1988). The self-monitoring version requires participants to keep a daily record of whether they had been on a date, whether the date involved sexual activity, and whether they and their partner differed about the desired level of sexual activity. The retrospective version requires participants to indicate whether they have ever experienced the designated type of disagreement situation (i.e., a dis- agreement situation in which the woman desired the higher level of sexual activity or a disagreement situation in which the man desired the higher level of sexual activity). There are male and female versions of each questionnaire. Respondents who report having experienced such an interaction then complete a 19-item questionnaire assessing characteristics of the first (self-monitoring) or most recent (retrospective) incident. Questions assess their relationship with their dating partner (i.e., type of relationship, number of previous dates, romantic interest in their partner), where they were at the time of the disagreement, the disputed level of sexual activity, whether they had engaged in the disputed sexual activity with that partner on a previous occasion, and the consensual sexual activities preceding the disagreement (if any). Respondents also provide the reasons why the reluctant partner did not want to engage in the initiated sexual activity. Respondents provide detailed information regarding the communication about the disputed sexual activity by reporting the verbal and/or nonverbal behaviors

used by (a) the man or woman to indicate his or her desire to engage in the sexual activity (i.e., initiation behaviors), (b) the reluctant partner to indicate unwillingness to engage in the initiated sexual activity (i.e., response behaviors), and, (c) the initiator in response to the non initiating partner’s reluctance (i.e., influence behaviors). Respondents rate how clearly the initiator had indicated a desire for the sexual activity and how clearly the partner had indicated reluctance. Respondents also indicate, from a list of 34 possible influence strategies, those strategies (if any) used to influence the reluctant partner to engage in the unwanted sexual activity. For each strategy endorsed, respondents indicate whether the impact on the reluctant partner was positive (i.e., pleasing), negative (i.e., displeasing), or neutral (i.e., neither pleasing nor displeasing). Respondents indicate whether they had engaged in the disputed level of sexual activity following the disagreement, and they rate the pleasantness associated with the disagreement interaction both at the time of the dis- agreement and at the time the questionnaire is completed. They also rate the amount of romantic interest felt toward their dating partner both before and after the disagreement. Using an open-ended format, respondents are given the opportunity to provide additional information about the interaction they had described. Finally they rate their confidence in the accuracy of their responses.

Response Mode and Timing

The SSQ takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. The format is primarily multiple choice. Five items are open-ended: location of incident, reasons for reluctance to engage in the disputed level of sexual activity, and the verbal and nonverbal components of the disagreement. Location was rated as occurring in a bedroom or not in a bedroom. The following categories are used to rate reasons for reluctance to engage in the sexual activity: unknown, timing in relationship, inappropriate relation- ship, situational (wrong time or location), moral beliefs, physical reasons, and mood. Verbal initiation behavior is categorized as no verbal initiation, indirect verbal initiation, or direct verbal initiation. Nonverbal initiation is categorized as no nonverbal initiation, suggestive look or action, kissing or sexual fondling, or coercion using physi- cal tactics. Responses can be rated categorically (O’Sullivan & Byers, 1993, 1996) or on two definiteness scales (Byers & Lewis, 1988). Categories for verbal responses are no verbal response, refusal without reason, refusal with situ- ation reason, and refusal with personal reason. Categories for nonverbal responses are no nonverbal response, no

Address correspondence to E. Sandra Byers, Department of Psychology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada, E3B 6E4; e-mail: [email protected]

resistance, passive acceptance, physical counteraction, or nonsexual touch. The verbal definiteness scale consists of the following 4-point scale: no verbal refusal, refusal implying advances might be accepted at some other time or place, unqualified refusal, and refusal with anger or threat that date should leave. Nonverbal definiteness is scored on the following 4-point scale: no physical refusal, blocked or did not perform sexual activity, moved away or pushed partner away, and got up or slapped. Similarly, influence behaviors can be rated categorically (O’Sullivan & Byers, 1993, 1996) or on a compliance scale (Byers & Lewis, 1988). The categories for influence behaviors are compliance using no influence behaviors, compliance using influence behaviors, or noncompliance. Alternately, compliance is scored on a 5-point scale consisting of: stopped without questioning, stopped and asked for clarification, stopped and attempted to persuade partner, stopped and expressed displeasure or anger, and continued unwanted advances.

Reliability and Validity

The SSQ has good reliability. The mean interrater agreement for open-ended questions was .87 (range .83 to 1.0) (O’Sullivan & Byers, 1993, 1996) and .85 (range .71 to ; Byers & Lewis, 1988). Respondents’mean confidence ratings of 5.1 (O’Sullivan & Byers, 1993) and 5.2 (O’Sullivan & Byers, 1996; Byers & Lewis, 1988)) on a 6-point scale provide evidence for the validity of the responses. Men have been found to rate themselves as less likely to comply with women’s refusal of their sexual advances in response to less definite than to more definite verbal responses, providing evidence for the validity of the definiteness scale. More traditional men have been found to be less compliant in their responses to a woman’s refusal of their sexual advances, providing evidence for the validity of the compliance scale.

Sexual Situation Questionnaire for Men (Reluctant Woman Version)a

Instructions: We are interested in learning more about communication in dating situations in which you, a man, wished to engage in a higher level of sexual activity than your date, a woman, wanted to engage in at that time. For example, you may have wanted to kiss a woman when she did not wish to kiss you. Another example would be if you wanted to have intercourse and your date only wanted to go as far as sexual fondling. Notice that we are interested in communication about all levels of sexual activity from holding hands and kissing to intercourse. And, while we use the term “date,” we are interested in any sexual situation that you are in with a member of the other sex, even if it is not part of what you may consider to be a true “date.” Also, when we use the term “disagreement,” we are referring to those situations in which you indicate a desire to engage in a higher level of sexual activity than a woman wanted–even if she later changed her mind and engaged in the sexual activity anyway or she was convinced to engage in the sexual activity some other way. In other words, the term “disagreement” means that you and your date differed in the level of sexual activity desired. It does not imply that you argued or fought about this issue.

      1. Have you ever been on a date where you wanted to engage in a higher level of sexual activity than your date, a woman, did? _

               Yes No

        If No, then you do not need to complete the rest of the questionnaire.

        If Yes, please complete the rest of the questionnaire for the most recent time that this occurred.

      2. How long ago was the most recent time that you wanted to engage in a higher level of sexual activity than your date did?

                                   (specify number and whether it was days, weeks, or months).

      3. Prior to the disagreement, how many previous dates had you and this woman had together?             

      4. What type of relationship did you have with your date prior to the disagreement?

                first date

                casual date

                steady date

      5. Where were you and your date at the time of the disagreement?

      6. The sexual activity that you wished to engage in but your date did not wish to engage in was: (check all that apply)

                hugging

                a kiss

                necking

                you fondling or kissing your date’s breasts

                you fondling your date’s genitals

                your date fondling your genitals

                oral sex (male to female)

                oral sex (female to male)

                intercourse

                anal sex

                other (please specify) 

      7. Why did your date not wish to engage in this sexual activity?

      8. Had you ever engaged in this sexual activity before with this woman?

                  Yes      No

      9. The sexual activity (or activities) that you and your date were engaging in immediately prior to the disagreement was (were): (check as many as apply)

                no sexual activity

                hugging

                a kiss

                necking

                you fondling or kissing your date’s breasts

                your date fondling your genitals

                you fondling her genitals

                oral sex (male to female)

                oral sex (female to male)

                intercourse

                anal sex

                other (please specify) 

      10. How clearly did you indicate to your date that you wanted to engage in the higher level of sexual activity that you specified in Question 6?

                 extremely clearly

                 moderately clearly

                 somewhat clearly

                 somewhat unclearly

                 moderately unclearly

                 extremely unclearly

      11. What did you say and/or do to indicate that you wanted to engage in the higher level of sexual activity that you specified in Question 6? (Please write the exact words you used [if any] and/or describe the actions that you used [if any] to indicate that you wanted to engage in the sexual activity.)

        I said: I did:                                                                                       

      12. How clearly did your date indicate that she did not want to engage in this sexual activity?

                 extremely clearly

                moderately clearly

                somewhat clearly

                somewhat unclearly

                moderately unclearly

                extremely unclearly

      13. What did she say and/or do to indicate that she did not want to engage in this sexual activity? (Please write the exact words she used [if any] and/or describe the actions that she used [if any] to indicate that she did not want to engage in the sexual activity.) She said:                                                                                  

        She did:                                                                                  

      14. How did you respond after she had indicated that she did not want to engage in this sexual activity? (Please write the exact words you used [if any] and/or describe the actions that you used [if any] after she had indicated that she did not want to engage in the sexual activity.)

        I said:                                                                                      

        I did:                                                                                       

      15. Did you and your date end up engaging in the sexual activity that you had disagreed upon? Yes, then         

        Yes, later on that date No, not on that date         

      16. Please indicate which of the following behaviors you used (if any) in attempting to influence your date to engage in the higher level of sexual activity once she had indicated that she did not want to by placing a check mark in the left hand column below.

        Then, for each behaviour you used, indicate the impact of the behaviour on your date at that time. Use a “P” if the impact of the behavior was positive or pleasing to your date, a “D” if the impact of the behavior was negative or displeasing, or an “N” if the impact of the behavior was neutral. (Check as many behaviours as occurred.)

        Impact on woman (P, D, or N)

         

         

        1.     asked her if she found you sexually attractive

        2.     pouted, sulked, or refused to talk

        3.     told her that you were too sexually aroused to stop

        4.     said things to her that you did not really mean (e.g., told her that you loved her and you do not)

        5.     talked about your real feelings toward her (e.g., told her that you loved her and you do)

        6.     threats (e.g. to end the date, end the relationship or tell others)

        7.     discontinued all sexual activity

        8.     complimented her on her body or sexuality

        9.     made negative comments (e.g. about her sexuality, her personality, her appearance or the relationship)

        10.   pinched, poked her

        11.   tickled her

        12.   pleaded

        13.   tried to reason with her

        14.   bargained, negotiated, or suggested a compromise

        15.   took off or loosened clothing

        16.   flirted

        17.   pretended to become disinterested in the sexual activity that you had wanted to engage in previously

        18.   cried

        19.   grabbed her or used some other form of physical pressure

        20.   touched, stroked her

        21.   tried to get her drunk, stoned

        22.   started an argument

        23.   made positive comments about her appearance

        24.   made positive comments about her personality

        25.   made positive comments about the relationship

        26.   told her how enjoyable it would be

        27.   made her feel guilty

        28.   used humor

        29.   moved away from her

        30.   made her jealous (e.g., flirted with someone else)

        31.   ignored refusal and engaged in the higher level of sexual activity anyway

        32.   asked her why she didn’t want to do it

        33.   put on clothing, music that you hoped she would find arousing

        34.   danced, moved seductively

        35.   other (please specify)                               

      17. At the time when you wanted to engage in the higher level of sexual activity than your date did, how pleasurable was it being with your date?

                extremely unpleasant

                moderately unpleasant

                slightly unpleasant

                slightly pleasant

                moderately pleasant

                extremely pleasant

      18. How do you now evaluate this time with your date (when you wanted to engage in a higher level of sexual activity)?

                extremely unpleasant

                moderately unpleasant

                slightly unpleasant

                slightly pleasant

                moderately pleasant

                extremely pleasant

      19. Before this incident, how romantically interested did you feel toward your date?

                no romantic interest

                slightly romantically interested

                moderately romantically interested

                very romantically interested

                extremely romantically interested

      20. After this incident, how romantically interested did you feel toward your date?

                no romantic interest

                slightly romantically interested

                moderately romantically interested

                very romantically interested

                extremely romantically interested

      21. If there is any additional information that would help us to understand the incident that you described above, please provide it.

      22. How confident are you that your responses are accurate?

        very unsure

        moderately unsure

        slightly unsure

        slightly sure

        moderately sure

        very sure

This version of the questionnaire is designed for men to report on incidents in which they desired a higher level of sexual activity than did their female partner. Men can also be asked to report on situations in which their female partner desired to engage in a higher level of sexual activity than they did, and women can be asked to report on either of these disagreement situations by altering the pronouns and use of the terms man and woman.

References

Byers, E. S., & Lewis, K. (1988). Dating couples’ disagreements over the desired level of sexual intimacy. The Journal of Sex Research, 24, 15–29.

O’Sullivan, L. F., & Byers, E. S. (1993). Eroding stereotypes: College women’s attempts to influence reluctant male sexual partners. The Journal of Sex Research, 30, 270–282.

O’Sullivan, L. F., & Byers, E. S. (1996). Gender differences in responses to discrepancies in desired level of sexual intimacy. The Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 8(1/2), 49–67.