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Conquest by Force: A Narcissistic Reactance Theory of Rape and Sexual Coercion
Review of General Psychology
  • Roy F Baumeister
  • Kathleen R Catanese
  • Harry M. Wallace, Case Western Reserve University
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Men's efforts to force women to engage in unwanted sexual activity can be explained by a combination of reactance theory and narcissism. Reactance theory suggests that deprivation of specific sexual options will cause men to desire them more, to try to reclaim them by forcing sex and by aggressing against the woman who has refused them, and assorted findings support this analysis. Narcissism is proposed to moderate the link, especially because coercion is relatively rare in response to sexual refusals. Evidence about sexually coercive men supports the narcissism hypothesis, such as by showing self-serving cognitive distortions, an excessive concern with being admired, an inflated sense of entitlement, selectively low empathy, and a broadly exploitative approach to heterosexual relations.
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Baumeister, R. F., Catanese, K. R., & Wallace, H. M. (2002). Conquest by force: A narcissistic reactance theory of rape and sexual coercion. Review of General Psychology, 6, 92-135. doi: 10.1037/1089-2680.6.1.92