.. y more ?Takes Charge¦ when they proposed a condom (M = 5.29) than when they did not (M = 4.52), F(1, 60) = 10.12, p = .002 (see Table 2). However, The context sentence used did not seem to alter observers responses, because a main effect was not statistically evident (as seen in Table 2). Similarly, no interactions were found between the two independent variables for this scale. Table 2: Mean Ratings of ?Takes Charge¦ as a Function of Condom Proposal and Context Sentence Context Sentence NOTHING CONCERN Condom NOTHING 4.63 4.4 4.52 Proposal “WITH ME” 5.27 5.31 5.29 4.94 4.87 A significant main effect for context sentence was found for the ?Sexual Attractiveness¦ scale.
The participants rated the target as more ?Sexually Attractive¦ (see Table 3) when they said nothing (M= 5.36) than when they said that they said that they were ?concerned¦ (M = 4.89), F(1, 60) = 7.85, p = .006. Unlike the previous scales, the rating of ?Sexual Attractiveness¦ did not differ in regards to the condom proposal variable (see Table 3). The variables of condom proposal and context sentences did not show any significant interactions amongst them. Table 3: Mean Ratings of ?Sexual Attractiveness¦ as a Function of Condom Proposal and Context Sentence Context Sentence NOTHING CONCERN Condom NOTHING 5.42 4.91 5.13 Proposal “WITH ME” 5.29 4.87 5.04 5.36 4.89 As seen in Table 4, the target was perceived as significantly more ?Responsible¦ when she professed that she was ?concerned¦ (M = 5.46) than when she said nothing (M = 4.83), F(1, 16) = 60, p = .001. Although the averages for condom proposal differed, there were no statistical differences between proposing a condom or saying nothing for the rating of ?Responsibility.¦ As in the other scales- statistical analysis, there were no interactions found for this scale.
Table 4: Means for ?Responsible¦ Ratings as a Function of Condom Proposal and Context Sentence Context Sentence NOTHING CONCERN Condom NOTHING 4.88 5.37 5.17 Proposal “WITH ME” 4.79 5.55 5.24 4.83 5.46 The target was assessed as significantly more ?Nice¦ (see Table 5) when she expressed ?concern¦ (M = 5.34) than when she said nothing (M = 5.07), F(1, 60) = 3.82, p = .052. She was also seen as statistically more ?Nice¦ when she proposed a condom with her (M = 5.24) than when she said nothing (M = 5.17), F(1,60) = 2.70, p = .102. There was a significant interaction found among the independent variables F(1,60) = 7.06, p = .009. Women who said nothing were considered more ?Nice¦ when they did not propose a condom (M = 4.88) than when they did (M = 4.79). But when the female target said she was concerned, the participants rated her differently. The observers saw the target as less ?Nice¦ when she said nothing (M =5.37) than when she said she had a condom with her (M = 5.55). Table 5: Mean Ratings For The ?Nice¦ Scale as a Function of Condom Proposal and Context Sentence Context Sentence NOTHING CONCERN Condom NOTHING 4.88 5.37 5.17 Proposal “WITH ME” 4.79 5.55 5.24 4.83 5.46 Main effects for the ?Exciting¦ scale (see Table 6) were found for both independent variables as well.
The female target was seen as more ?Exciting¦ when she did not propose a condom (M = 4.47) than when she expressed that she had a condom with her (M = 4.80), F(1, 60) = 5.59, p = .019. The female target was also seen as more ?Exciting¦ when she said nothing (M = 4.98) than when she said she was ?concerned¦ (M = 4.40), F(1, 60) = 17.35, p = .001. Significant interactions were not rendered within this scale. Table 6: Mean Ratings For The ?Exciting¦ scale as a Function of Condom Proposal and Context Sentence Context Sentence NOTHING CONCERN Condom NOTHING 5.39 5.3 5.34 Proposal “WITH ME” 4.72 5.37 5.12 5.07 5.34 DISCUSSION This study was conducted to ascertain what types of perceptions people acquire towards other-s actions within a sexual situation. Specifically, what male observers thought of women-s actions in a sexual situation. Different scales were formed to assess the observer-s perceptions of the targets actions within this situation. The women who said they were concerned about the situation were perceived differently than the women who said nothing about the situation.
Similarly, women who proposed a condom (that she brought) was evaluated differently than the woman who did not propose a condom. Correlation Hypotheses Before the dependent variables could be used as gauges of different and distinct evaluations of the targets by the observers, it had to be ascertained that when they were grouped into larger scales the scales were indicative of certain evaluations (i.e. the Active, Brave and Strong dependent variables grouped all reflected an evaluation of ?Takes Charge¦). This was done by running some statistical analysis on the various descriptive terms to assess first, if they were similar enough to each other to validate their being grouped together into one scale and secondly, whether they were different enough from each other between the items and the scales and also between any two scales, to be considered different scales. As seen in Table 1, the similarities within scale-s items and the differentiations between scales were achieved. Since the ?Nice¦ and ?Exciting¦ items are inherent aspects of all evaluations, one of these scales was always slightly associated with items within the other scales, a phenomenon that has been found within most person perception evaluations (Casteneda & Collins, 1995; Collins & Brief, 1995; Mc Kinney et al., 1987; Chassin et al., 1981).
Context Sentence: I am Concerned Vs. Nothing As hypothesized, the woman who vocalized her feelings (?I am concerned¦) was perceived as different from the woman who said nothing on four of the five measurement scales. As seen in Tables 3, 4, 5, & 6, women who were ?concerned¦ were rated by observers as less sexually attractive, more responsible, more nice and less exciting as compared to the woman who said nothing. These results are similar to rationale given to results of other studies on sexual communication. That is, emotional reactions to a sexual situation have been hypothesized based on other tested sexual communications, but have never been directly tested in a person perception paradigm (Lear, 1995; Castenada & Collins, 1995). However, on the scale that measured the female target-s initiative (?Takes Charge¦ scale) there was no perceived difference recorded by the observers between the context sentence.
Originally it was hypothesized that the woman who expressed concern would be more bold than the woman who said nothing, simply because she voiced an opinion. Since the results did not corroborate this hypothesis, something in the theorizing must have been incorrect. Perhaps the problem with this reasoning was that it did not take into account the meaning of the statement. Although the woman might have been ?taking charge¦ by voicing something she was not perceived as being especially brave or strong by saying ?I am concerned.¦ Emotional pleas to contraceptive use have been hypothesized as less likely to elicit perceptions of competence than other means in other studies as well (Lear, 1995). It would be interesting to pursue the use of different types of emotional pleas in future research.
Perhaps context sentences including, ?I am concerned,¦ as well as other sentences such as, ?I-m anxious,¦ and ?I feel weird about this,¦ and ?I-m uncomfortable¦ could be used in future studies on other-s perceptions of how emotional feelings affect different personality measures. Condom Proposal: ?With Me¦ Vs. Nothing It was hypothesized that a woman who claimed to have a condom with her would be more ?Takes Charge,¦ more ?Sexually Attractive,¦ more ?Responsible,¦ less ?Nice,¦ and more ?Exciting¦ than the woman who said nothing about a condom. However only some of these hypotheses were confirmed by statistical analysis of the results (as seen in Tables 2-6). Respondents did rate women who proposed a condom as more active and initiative than the woman who said nothing. This result corroborates other studies that view condom proposal as indicative of self efficacy (van der Pligt & Richard, 1994; Bengel et al., 1996).
Previous studies have also predicted and found that assertiveness is correlated with condom usage (Bengel et al., 1996). The respondents also rated the condom proposer as less ?Nice¦ than the woman who did not propose a condom, as hypothesized. An interaction was found in the way the participants rated the likability of the target. She was seen as less nice when she proposed a condom and said nothing than when she just said nothing, but she was rated most nice when she proposed a condom and expressed concern. This difference in tone of the context a condom is proposed in can be observed in a previous study.
Women who introduced a condom with a theme of care and responsibility were seen as more nice than a woman who introduced a condom and used a context sentence which focused on the partner (without explicit care or responsibility themes) (Casteneda & Collins, 1995). The adjective ?caring¦ can be correlated with the current study-s use of the word ?concern.¦ When a woman is perceived as caring, it-s ?nice¦ of her to introduce a condom, but if she is just focused on the partner, or as in this study, says nothing, concern is not sensed by the participant and he rates her as less nice. Thus, the seemingly conflicting findings of the ratings of condom proposal and concern in this study are probably the result of relationship type; in less caring or more casual sexual relationships, women who propose condoms are less ?Nice.¦ Similar results have been found when observers have evaluated the condom usage in other casual sexual relationships (Lear, 1995). The other hypotheses were not confirmed. Women were not seen as more attractive when they proposed a condom than when they did not.
This may be because a woman who says nothing is perceived as more mysterious and thus more sexual than a woman who says nothing. In a similar study it was found that a condom proposal in a relationship elicited higher ratings for ?Sexual Attractiveness¦ for people who proposed a condom as compared to those who didn-t (Castenada & Collins, 1995). As in the consideration of the ?Nice¦ results, this difference may be because of the relationship type. That study also found that males responded differently to this rating than did females, and also that the ethnicity of the rater influenced their rating of ?Sexual Attractiveness.¦ Since it has been found that sex and ethnicity influence ratings of attractiveness for condom proposal, future studies using this paradigm should involve both sexes and different ethnicities in order to get a more complete picture of the exact ways the perception of ?Sexual Attractiveness¦ of an individual differs across the population. Surprisingly, the woman who proposed a condom was not seen as more ?Responsible¦ than the woman who said nothing. This result seems counterintuitive to the inferences given to safer sex behavior in sexual encounters.
One explanation of this result can be postulated based on the new expectancies associated with sexual behavior in the era of AIDS. This is reflected by the responses within one study on safer sex practices, where respondents explained their lack of discussion about safer sex was because safer sex was expected and not an area where negotiation was needed (Bengel et al., 1996). Thus, those results can be applied to the little differentiation found between condom proposal and no condom proposal in this study. That is, perhaps women who did not explicitly propose a condom were not seen as less responsible because it was assumed by the observers that a condom would be used in a sexual situation such as the one depicted. In order to clarify the exact thought process that the observers used to evaluate the accountability of the women targets in the situation, future studies should include a third presentation.
This situation would depict a woman who did not propose a condom, while indicating that she did not plan to use one. The observers might then be forced to evaluate the women who propose or do not propose condoms differently. The other hypothesis that was not confirmed by the statistical analysis was the hypothesis that the woman who proposed a condom would be seen as more ?Exciting¦ than the woman who said nothing. It was reasoned that the woman would be seen as more exciting because using a condom might lead observers to conclude that she was more sexually active than saying nothing would have. Perhaps proposing a condom is less risky, and therefore condom proposal is perceived as less exciting than saying nothing in this context.
Methodological Issues This study had a few potential problems in the way that it was constructed. While it provided a valuable look into how females are evaluated by males in a sexual situation, the situation may have been slightly confusing to the participants because of a problem with the ecological validity of the situation. For example, one of the possible scenarios an observer could have been exposed to was a sexual scenario where the target woman says ?I am concerned¦ and who doesn-t offer a condom. This manipulation lacks ecological validity, because in the real world, if a woman said that her partner might respond by saying ?what are you concerned about¦ or something to that effect, thus getting at the reason behind her concern. In this experiment, no other explanation is given to this context sentence and observers are left to interpret this cryptic message for themselves.
It was used as part of the experiment to see how people react to just an emotional plea and balance the manipulation of variables, but it is not at all realistic. Perhaps the participants who were told to respond to this a scenario were confused and not able to complete the person perception evaluation because of the confusion. Similarly, participants who were given the scenario where the target said nothing about either her emotional state or a condom might have wondered what they were supposed to be basing my evaluation on to fill out the questionnaire. It may have been interesting to have each respondent exposed to each scenario and use the nothing/nothing scenario as that respondent-s baseline – – measuring his other responses when they diverged from this baseline. A within-subjects design is proposed for future research to compare participants reactions to different scenarios.
Another methodological issue that was problematic in this study, that is apparent in many studies which utilize rating scales, was that the respondents never varied much from the middle of the scale. This showed that they did not rate the person as strongly one way or another for any one scale. For example, on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 = Active and 7 = Passive) a respondent for any given scenario usually rated the target as a 4. Although there was often enough variation to suggest statistical difference between ratings, the average rating of 4 is right in the middle of the scale and this response is ambiguous. Perhaps the respondent didn-t think the target was either, or perhaps he didn-t have any feeling about this evaluation, so he chose neither, or perhaps he did not feel like answering the questionnaire, so he only marks 4-s.
Any of these explanations may be correct, all with the same outcome. There is not much variation from the middle for any of the scales, which indicates that may be the scales need to be altered in order for more respondents to practice more variation among their assessments. If they varied their scoring more, the differences among the various scales would be larger and we could tell more clearly where their perceptions lay. One possible alteration to the scale might be to use more scales, without such dichotomous word choices, that were more specific to the situation. For example, the Active/Passive scale might be broken into two scales, one which measures Very Actively Involved to Actively Involved and then another scale which rated Somewhat Actively Involved to Passive About Issues.
In this way the experimenter might be able to more accurately gather the respondent-s true impressions of the target in a sexual situation. Another problem that could be addressed in future studies is that the current study was aimed at evaluating people-s perceptions of sexual situation involving the use of condoms, and yet there was no mention of the reason why condoms as opposed to other methods of contraception was given. Since condoms are an important part of sexual disease prevention this aspect of their use should have been one of the manipulations used. Perhaps another factor could behave been added to the context sentence, about the target-s concern about AIDS or another sexually transmitted disease. A future study that questioned participant-s impressions of women who mentioned each type of sexually transmitted disease that college age students are exposed to, might help in the development of intervention strategies for combating the spread of these diseases. How This Study-s Findings Relate to AIDS Intervention Programs Although this study did not specifically mention AIDS in it`s manipulations, the results of participant`s perceptions toward a target who introduced a condom is relevant to AIDS intervention programs. As it has been emphasized, any sexually active person is capable of carrying the disease – – indicating that a vast majority of the population is at risk (Surgeon General).
Because of the prevalence of people at risk and (as the current study has found) the prevalence of different impressions about women who express concern or propose a condom in a sexual situation, prevention models must be created to effectively confront the disease. Personal perceptions of other`s decisions are relevant to every facet of the AIDS intervention process. AIDS must be addressed on the individual, familial, local organizational, and communal levels to be effective (Flora & Thoresen, 1989), and all of these levels involve personal perceptions of the issue. Not only do person`s perception affect people on an individual level, people`s perceptions of others vary in response to the type of groups others are affiliated with as well. Intervention programs must be sensitive to the multitude of influences which affect people`s decisions in order to be effective.
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