Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors




This mixed methods study examined sexual assault experiences and interpretations within a conservative religious context. In study one, male and female undergraduates (n=234) responded to survey questions assessing religious dogmatism, sexist ideology, traditional gender roles, and rape myth acceptance. Religious fundamentalism was related to rape myth acceptance for women, but not men, and both benevolent sexism (e.g., chivalry) and traditional gender role adherence fully mediated the relationship between religious fundamentalism and rape myth acceptance for women. In study two, 14 women were interviewed about their unwanted sexual assault experiences (USE) and were asked to evaluate their experiences with reference to their religious and cultural backgrounds. Thematic analyses highlighted the complicated, but important process of labeling the USE as assault or rape. In addition, women viewed their sexuality education and religious socialization as inadequate to prepare them for navigating ambiguous and dangerous sexual interactions. The combination of naiveté and moral messaging left women both disempowered in their sexual interactions, and overwhelmed by self-blame and guilt following their assault experiences.

Included in

Psychology Commons



Faculty Mentor

Renee V. Galliher

Departmental Honors Advisor

Scott C. Bates