Narcissism, Disinterest Cues and Sexual Assault Labeling: An Experiment




Phipps, Tiara

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Anti-social traits are a precursor to many criminal acts and aggressive behaviors, including sexual assault. This study examined the influence of men's level of narcissistic traits and their perceptions of women's sexual interest on men's labeling of nonconsensual sex as sexual assault portrayed in an experimental vignette. Two hundred forty-nine male college students read a vignette describing a hypothetical social interaction between a man and a woman. Within the vignette, the degree to which the female character behaved as if she were disinterested in the male character was manipulated. The vignette ended with the male character physically forcing sexual intercourse with the female character. After reading the vignette, participants' labeling of the nonconsensual sex as sexual assault was assessed. Participants' narcissistic personality traits were assessed as an individual difference variable. Results showed that both narcissism level and disinterest cues had significant effects on men's perception of the female character's sexual interest, and that narcissism was negatively associated with sexual assault labeling. Results also indicated significant indirect effects such that greater narcissism level and weaker disinterest cues increased perceptions of sexual interest, which in turn decreased the labeling of nonconsensual sex as sexual assault. These findings hold implications for theories of sexual assault perpetration, and interventions to reduce sexual violence.


This item is available only to currently enrolled UTSA students, faculty or staff. To download, navigate to Log In in the top right-hand corner of this screen, then select Log in with my UTSA ID.


labeling, narcissism, sexual assault, sexual interest