Sexually Assertive Behavior Scale

Sexually Assertive Behavior Scale

PETER B. ANDERSON,1 Walden University

MARIA NEWTON, University of Utah

The purpose of the Sexually Assertive Behavior Scale (SABS) is to assess women’s behaviors and motives relative to initiating sexual contact with men.

Description

The Sexually Assertive Behavior Scale is a 19-item scale composed of six factors—Sexual Arousal, Hidden Motives, Verbal Pressure, Retaliation or Gain, Physical Force, and Exploitation. Factor 1 (Sexual Arousal) relates to mutually consenting sexual contact and attempts to arouse a partner. Factor 2 (Hidden Motives) items relate to a woman initiating a sexual relationship with a man other than her partner to make her partner jealous, to hurt him, or to terminate their relationship. Factor 3 (Verbal Pressure) items relate to verbally persuasive tactics. Factor 4 (Retaliation or Gain) items relate to initiating sexual contact with a partner out of anger, to retaliate, or to gain favor. Factor 5 (Physical Force) items specify the threat and use of physical force. Factor 6 (Exploitation) items relate to initiating sexual con- tact while the partner is vulnerable.

The Sexually Assertive Behavior Scale was developed to assess a wide range of behaviors and motives relative to women initiating sexual contact. Thirteen of the items in the SABS were adapted from the Sexual Experiences Survey (SES) developed by Koss and Oros (1982). The SES is a self- report instrument using dichotomous (yes-no) responses to 13 questions that reflect various degrees of male sexual aggression and female victimization. For example, women responding to the SES were asked, “Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because a man used his position of authority (boss, teacher, camp counselor, supervisor) to make you?” This work was chosen for adaptation because it was previously tested and shown to have good internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = .74 for women, .89 for men), test- retest reliability of .93, and external validity established through face-to-face interview (Pearson r = .61, p < .001) (Koss & Gidycz, 1985).

In addition to the 13 items adapted from the SES for inclusion in the SABS, 6 more items were generated from a review of the literature on male sexual aggression and item suggestions by a panel of experts in sexual aggression, for example “How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man by taking advantage of a compromising position he was in (being where he did not belong or breaking some rule)?” or “How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man to get even with or hurt another man?” All items were worded to conform to the interviewing style used by Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin (1948), who assumed all respondents had engaged in each behavior mentioned and allowed for specific numerical responses (i.e., “How many times have you . . .?” rather than “Have you ever ...?”). Also, we attempted to arrange the order of items in the SABS to ask what we judged to be the more comfort- able questions first.

1Address correspondence to Peter B.Anderson, School of Counseling and Social Services, Walden University, 155 FifthAve. South, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55401; e-mail: [email protected]

Response Mode and Timing

The Sexually Assertive Behavior Scale contains written instructions directing the respondents to write in the number of times they have initiated sexual contact as described in each question. Completion of the 19-item questionnaire typically takes approximately 5 minutes.

Scoring

Actual frequency counts are elicited for each question. To date, we have compiled and transformed the responses into dichotomous scores of 0 for those who reported no experience and 1 for those who reported engaging in the behavior or motive one or more times. One may also choose to create a response distribution per item and then subdivide the distribution into quartiles. Items contained in each subscale are Sexual Arousal (Items 1–5), Hidden Motives (Items 9– 11), Verbal Pressure (Items 6–8), Retaliation or Gain (Items 12–14), Physical Force (Items 18–19), and Exploitation (Items 15–17).

Reliability

Anderson and Newton (1997) found that the Hidden Motives subscale demonstrated satisfactory reliability (alpha coefficient .75). Internal consistency for the Sexual Arousal, Retaliation or Gain, and Verbal Pressure sub- scales was marginally acceptable (alphas = .64, .56, and .61, respectively). The Exploitation subscale (alpha = .43) yielded low reliability and should be interpreted with caution. The Physical Force subscale contained only two items (alpha = .58).

Validity

This Sexually Assertive Behavior Scale was reviewed for face and content validity, pretested, pilot tested, and reviewed twice by a panel of experts to establish consensual validation (Anderson, 1990). Construct validity, in relation to factor structure, was supported by factor analyses (Anderson & Newton, 1997).

Updates

The SABS has been modified for use by the principal authors and others since it was first introduced (see Anderson, Kontos, & Struckman-Johnson, 2008; Anderson, Kontos, Tanigoshi, & Struckman-Johnson, 2005). Subsequent versions have expanded the number of questions asked and shown similar reliability and validity scores. The original SABS remains the most parsimonious scale designed to assess women’s sexual aggression toward men.

Sexually Assertive Behavior Scale

This portion of the questionnaire is an attempt to discover some of the behavior that you employ in your sexual activities. Sexual contact is defined as fondling, kissing, petting, or intercourse. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions. Please answer as honestly as you can.

  1. How many times have you had sexual contact (fondling, kissing, petting, or intercourse) with a man when you both wanted to?
  2. How many times have you initiated sexual contact (fondling, kissing, petting, or intercourse) with a man?
  3. In initiating sexual contact with a man, how many times have you overestimated the level of sexual activity he desired to have with you?
  4. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man because you were so sexually aroused you did not want to stop?
  5. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man by getting him sexually aroused?
  6. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact (fondling, kissing, petting, or intercourse) with a man by threatening to end your relationship?
  7. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man by saying things that you didn’t mean?
  8. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man by pressuring him with verbal arguments?
  9. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man in order to make another man jealous?
  10. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man in order to get even with or hurt another man?
  11. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man in order to end a relationship with another man?
  12. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man in a position of power or authority over you (boss, teacher, or supervisor) in order to better your situation or gain something?
  13. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man because you were angry at him?
  14. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man to retaliate for something he did to you?
  15. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact (fondling, kissing, petting, or intercourse) with a man to gain power or control over him?
  16. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man while his judgment was impaired by drugs or alcohol?
  17. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man by taking advantage of a compromising position he was in (being where he did not belong or breaking some rule)?
  18. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man by threatening to use some degree of physical force (hold- ing him down, hitting him, etc.)?
  19. How many times have you attempted to have sexual contact with a man by using some degree of physical force?

References

Anderson, P. B. (1990, November). Aggressive sexual behavior by females: Incidence, correlates, and implications. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

Anderson, P. B., Kontos, A. P., & Struckman-Johnson, C. (2008). Relationships between college women’s responses to the multidi- mensional sexuality questionnaire and the heterosexual contact scale. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 11. http://www.ejhs.org/vol- ume11/anderson.htm

Anderson, P. B., Kontos, A. P., Tanigoshi, H., & Struckman-Johnson, C. (2005). A comparison of sexual strategies used by urban southern and rural midwestern university women. The Journal of Sex Research, 42, 335–341.

Anderson, P., & Newton, M. (1997). The Initiating Heterosexual Contact Scale: A factor analysis. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 9, 179–186.

Kinsey, A., Pomeroy W., & Martin, C. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Koss, M., & Gidycz, C. (1985). Sexual Experiences Survey: Reliability and validity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53, 422–423.

Koss, M., & Oros, C. (1982). Sexual Experiences Survey: A research instrument investigating sexual aggression and victimization. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 50, 455–457.