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The major aim of this project is to explore and test the validity of what the authors describe as the “miscommunication hypothesis” or the idea that men and women often misunderstand one another during sexual relations leading to experiences described as sexual assault or coercion. This project builds on a pilot study conducted in Canada in 1993 and includes a Canadian and New Zealand component. Specific research questions include:

  • How do young adults in Canada and New Zealand characterize communication between men and women during sexual relations?
  • How do men’s and women’s narratives of heterosexual dating and sex compare with one another?
  • How do students’ perceptions of heterosexual dating and sexual vary across New Zealand and Canada?

In particular, the project will ask young adults to produce narratives of heterosexual dating situations under several circumstances. These narratives will be analyzed for evidence that supports or refutes the miscommunication hypothesis. This project will contribute to broader understanding of the ways that young adults perceive heterosexual relations with particular emphasis on their perception of potential for miscommunication to lead to sexual coercion.

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