Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Sarah R. Lowe


Introduction: More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience some type of sexual violence in their lifetimes (NISVS | CDC, 2021). While a significant body of research exists on predictors of reporting behavior after sexual assault victimization, far less research has attended to factors that may contribute to perpetration, such as sexual self-concept. The current study investigates sexual self-concept and its relationship to health behavior and notions of sexual consent in a college student sample. Methods: Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from 160 Yale undergraduates 18 years or older with approval from the Yale University IRB (66.9% female, 40.6% white, 66.3% heterosexual). Findings: Adjusted linear regression models revealed that levels of sexual self-stigma were predictive of a 2.10 and 3.86-unit increase in alcohol use disorder and sexual risk-taking scores, respectively (p<0.01). Additionally, sexual self-stigma was found to have a significant negative association with a subscale assessing perceived behavioral control (PBC; p<0.01). Finally, in a multinomial logistic regression model, a 1-unit increase in sexual self-stigma was associated with 8.78 times the odds of having low PBC and less positive attitudes compared with having high PBC and more positive attitudes (95% CI: 1.73,44.51; p=0.008). A 1-unit increase in sexual self-stigma was also associated with 13.70 times the odds of having low PBC and less positive attitudes toward consent compared to having high PBC and less positive attitudes (95% CI: 1.75, 107.08; p=0.012). Conclusion: These findings suggest that sexual self-stigma may be an important factor to consider in the primary prevention of sexual assault, particularly as it pertains to exercising behavioral control in the context of sexual consent.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access