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Journal of Interpersonal Violence


Objective: This study examined the impact of a dichotomous versus scaled response format on prevalence rates of sexual violence perpetration and victimization, thus conceptually replicating Hamby et al., 2006 and extending those findings to the context of sexual violence.

Methods: Two samples were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk and were randomly assigned to either a dichotomous or scaled response format of the same questionnaire. Sample 1 was used to examine perpetration and received a perpetration specific version of the Post-Refusal Sexual Persistence Scale (PRSPS). Sample 2 was used to examine victimization and received a victimization specific version of the PRSPS.

Results: Men and women who received the scaled response format reported significantly more incidents of sexual perpetration, and for each type of tactic studied, on the order of 1.7-9x more frequently. The association between response format condition and prevalence rates of sexual violence victimization was significant only for men (23.0 vs 39.4%) and for the tactic of verbal coercion (30.1 vs 41.5%), with the scaled response format producing greater responding. Conclusions: The response format of sexual violence items can significantly alter prevalence rates of sexual violence perpetration, with scaled response formats producing greater endorsements than dichotomous formats. Response format also appears to impact prevalence rates of sexual violence victimization, particularly for men.






The publisher's version of this article is available at:

Anderson RE, Cuccolo K. An Experimental Test of the Impact of Varying Questionnaire Response Format on Prevalence Rates for Sexual Violence Victimization and Perpetration. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. December 2021. Copyright © 2021 Taylor and Francis. DOI:10.1177/08862605211064239.

Anderson & Cuccolo (2021) Infographic.pdf (47 kB)
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