As I noted in my previous posts, Duke women’s center director Ada Gregory, in her damage-control letter to the Chronicle, cited the work of researcher David Lisak to bolster her . . . provocative . . . claim that elite universities face a particular threat from potential rapists because these institutions house more intelligent people than the general public.
As I also noted in my previous posts, not only did Lisak’s articles and papers that I read fail to prove this claim, but they provided no basis for it at all—Lisak did not mention rapists’ IQ or intelligence in the writings that I read.
Below are the synopses of Lisak’s other articles discussing his studies of rape and sexual assault. And, keep in mind, Lisak is hardly out-of-step ideologically with people like Gregory or the Group of 88, since he has endorsed a claim (that no actual crime figures support) that roughly 40 million American women have been victims of sexual assault.
“Motivational factors in nonincarcerated sexually aggressive men,” Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. 55(5):795-802.
Research on convicted rapists has demonstrated the importance of several key motivational factors in male sexual aggression. In particular, anger at women and the need to dominate or control them have been repeatedly implicated. Although anger and power have also been shown to be important in understanding college men who report sexually aggressive behavior, there has been little research on what underlies these motives. This research combined questions assessing these underlying motivational factors, as well as questions dealing with underlying sexual motivation and disinhibition, with a slightly modified version of the Sexual Experiences Survey (Koss & Oros, 1982). In Study 1, subjects were 184 male undergraduates. Factor analysis of the questions composing the four scales yielded four slightly modified scales. Scales measuring underlying anger, underlying power, and disinhibition significantly differentiated sexually aggressive from nonaggressive men but did not distinguish between men who were coercive, manipulative, or nonaggressive. In a replication on a smaller sample (n = 70), underlying anger, underlying power, and disinhibition again differentiated sexually aggressive from nonaggressive men.
“Motives and psychodynamics of self-reported, unincarcerated rapists,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 60(2):268-80, 1990.
Fifteen men, classified by self-report as rapists and attempted rapists, but who had never been arrested or convicted, were compared to a matched control group on standardized instruments and content-coded interviews. Differences in hostility toward women, power motivations, and hypermasculinity were similar to findings from studies of convicted rapists. However, results suggest a greater role for the father in the etiology of rape-associated dynamics than has previously been reported.
“Educational, occupational, and relationship histories of men who were sexually and/or physically abused as children,” Journal of Traumatic Stress. 7(4):507-23, 1994.
Ninety men (mean age 26) at an urban Northeastern university were administered a self-report assessment of their early sexual and physical abuse experiences, and their educational, occupational, relationship, and substance abuse histories. Subjects were classified as sexually abused according to criteria used by Wyatt (1985) and Finkelhor (1979). Sixteen men (17.8%) experienced sexual abuse alone, 22 men (24.4%) physical abuse alone, 15 men (16.7%) both sexual and physical abuse, and 37 men (41.1%) were classified as nonabused. Of the 31 men who reported sexual abuse, 24 (77.4%) were contact, the rest noncontact. Sexually abused men reported significantly greater difficulties than nonabused men at all levels of education: grade school, high school and college. They also reported more negative job experiences and more negative experiences in relationships. Physically abused men showed a similar but less pervasive pattern of difficulties. Substance abuse was significantly more prevalent among both sexually and physically abused men than among nonabused subjects.
“Factors in the cycle of violence: gender rigidity and emotional constriction,” Journal of Traumatic Stress. 9(4):721-43, 1996.
A sample of 595 men were administered self-report assessments of childhood sexual and physical abuse, perpetration history, gender rigidity and emotional constriction. Including noncontact forms of sexual abuse, 11% of the men reported sexual abuse alone, 17% reported physical abuse alone, and 17% reported both sexual and physical abuse. Of the 257 men in the sample who reported some form of childhood abuse, 38% reported some form of perpetration themselves, either sexual or physical; of the 126 perpetrators, 70% reported having been abused in childhood. Thus, most perpetrators were abused, but most abused men did not perpetrate. Both sexually and physically abused men who perpetrated manifested significantly more gender rigidity and emotional constriction than abused nonperpetrators. Men who reported abuse but not perpetration demonstrated significantly less gender rigidity, less homophobia and less emotional constriction than nonabused men.
"Repeat rape and multiple offending among undetected rapists,” Violence & Victims. 17(1):73-84, 2002.
Pooling data from four samples in which 1,882 men were assessed for acts of interpersonal violence, we report on 120 men whose self-reported acts met legal definitions of rape or attempted rape, but who were never prosecuted by criminal justice authorities. A majority of these undetected rapists were repeat rapists, and a majority also committed other acts of interpersonal violence. The repeat rapists averaged 5.8 rapes each. The 120 rapists were responsible for 1,225 separate acts of interpersonal violence, including rape, battery, and child physical and sexual abuse. These findings mirror those from studies of incarcerated sex offenders (Abel, Becker, Mittelman, Cunningham-Rathner, Rouleau, & Murphy, 1987; Weinrott and Saylor, 1991), indicating high rates of both repeat rape and multiple types of offending. Implications for the investigation and prosecution of this so-called “hidden” rape are discussed.
It is possible, of course, that somewhere, at some point in his career, Lisak made an extraneous reference suggesting that entities filled by people with higher IQs are more likely to feature rapists. But there’s nothing in his available articles, or in his published synopses, to reflect this fact; and, in any case, this line of thought is clearly not a major element of Lisak’s research.
I have no opinion, one way or the other, on the quality of Lisak’s research. But why did Ada Gregory reference him and only him to substantiate her claim that Duke, because it has intelligent students, has a higher percentage of rapists than the general population, when his research offers no significant basis for making such a claim?
One final point on Lisak’s research. Much of campus anti-rape activism has focused on the dangers of “date rape,” and the dangers in particular of alcohol both inhibiting actions and leading one partner to believe that the other has given consent, when in fact no consent was given. Indeed, this sense of the danger of “date rape” helps explain many components of Duke’s current sexual assault policy—namely the requirement that consent must be given (and, presumably, documented) at each stage of the intercourse process; or the Orwellian claim that “real or perceived power differentials between individuals may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.” [emphases added]
Yet in his research, Lisak challenges this traditional view of “date rape.” He contends that the typical campus “undetected rapist” is not a “Nice Guy” who “drank too much,” and raped as a result of “unpremeditated” “miscommunication,” so that it “won’t happen again,” but instead someone who “plans & premeditates his attacks,” “uses multiple strategies to make [his] victim vulnerable,” and “uses alcohol deliberately.”
If true, of course, the problem of campus date rape isn’t primarily one of a male student mistakenly believing consent was given, and a female student denying consent. Instead, it’s a problem of a female being victimized by a serial sexual predator whose behavior wouldn’t be altered no matter how many freshmen orientation skits by the Women’s Center he happened to attend. Such a view of campus rape, of course, requires less ideological crusading by politically correct administrators and more interaction between the campus and local law enforcement. Lisak does recommend such interaction. But his research does nothing to help bolster Duke’s new policy.
Again, I have no opinion, one way or the other, on the quality of Lisak’s research. But, given his findings, it is troubling—to put it mildly—to see Ms. Gregory cite Lisak and only Lisak as part of her recommendation that Duke’s new, guilt-presuming sexual assault policy should form a model for other colleges and universities.