Personality, decision-making, and sexually aggressive behavior among college students
Sexual assault is a pervasive problem on college campuses. Individual level variables such as narcissism and impulsivity have been shown to have a tenuous relationship with sexually aggressive behavior in college students. Unfortunately, research in this domain has often inconsistently and inadequately assessed these constructs. As such, examination of these personality traits in relation to sexual assault requires a more precise approach, as these multifaceted constructs may not wholly predict sexual assault when examined as a broad construct. The current study sought to rectify the aforementioned issue by utilizing a more nuanced approach to investigate overall utility of narcissism and impulsivity/decision-making in explaining sexual aggression among college students. Two hundred-fifteen college students completed self-report measures of narcissistic traits, impulsivity, and sexual behaviors, as well as three experimental decision-making tasks to gauge impulsivity and risk-taking. The current study utilized Mplus software to develop models of latent variables of narcissism, impulsivity, and problematic attitudes toward women. Results partially supported hypotheses in that the overall model was significant for males; however, Narcissism, not Impulsivity, was a significant predictor of sexual aggression and rape proclivity. Correlation analyses revealed that pathological narcissism, not non-pathological narcissism, was correlated with some aspects of sexual aggression. Sexual narcissism demonstrated the strongest correlations. Among the female sample, the overall relationship between narcissism, impulsivity, and sexual aggression was significant, with impulsivity variables explaining a majority of the variance. Maladaptive narcissism demonstrated the strongest correlations with sexual aggression outcomes, in contrast to findings within the male sample. Overall, these results highlight the importance of nuanced assessment of personality constructs in providing a refined picture of predictors relevant to sexual aggression.