Video Vignettes: Measuring Risk Perception in Alcohol Related Sexual Assaults

Parks | Testa | Dearing | Hequembourg
Researchers developed short video clips of potential assault scenarios to help women better understand the nonverbal cues that could indicate the risk of sexual assault.

Prior research suggests that a woman’s ability to perceive or interpret cues about a potential sexual assault can be influenced by alcohol consumption and her history of prior assault. In the past, research designed to assess deficits in women’s ability to perceive risk cues for sexual assault have utilized written and audio vignettes. In this study, Dr. Kathleen A. Parks and colleagues are developing video vignettes, that will include nonverbal (e.g. facial expressions) risk cues that can not be presented in the more traditional written and audio vignettes. The hope is that these video vignettes, by including nonverbal, verbal, and environmental risk cues, will provide a more realistic depiction of a sexual assault scenario. The primary goal of developing more realistic scenarios with these imbedded risk cues is to be able to more accurately assess women’s ability to perceive risks for sexual assault during heterosexual drinking situations. Development and validation of this measure will occur through a rigorous, multi-method process involving five small studies. These include the development of the vignette scripts through focus groups, individual, and expert feedback, and validation of the different levels (ambiguous, low and high risk) of risk cues, through presentation to women during sober and moderate alcohol conditions. Future goals include the development of unique prevention programs using the video vignette measure as a training tool for improving women’s risk perception, thereby reducing sexual assault risk.

Principal Investigator
Kathleen Parks, PhD

Research Institute on Addictions

Maria Testa, PhD
Research Institute on Addictions

Ronda Dearing, PhD
University of Houston

Amy Hequembourg, PhD
Research Institute on Addictions

Funding Agency
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)