Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 631–644 | Cite as

Perceptions of Sexual Script Deviation in Women and Men

  • Verena KleinEmail author
  • Roland Imhoff
  • Klaus Michael Reininger
  • Peer Briken
Original Paper


Traditional sexual scripts are characterized by a gendered power inequality (male dominance vs. female submission) (Sanchez, Fetterolf, & Rudman, 2012). Although gender differences in a variety of sexual behaviors have been decreasing, research into sexual scripts provides some support for the existence of traditional sexual scripts adherence. Study 1a and 1b focused on men’s evaluations of sexual script deviation in women (i.e., sexually assertive behavior) and the possible disapproval of these behaviors (backlash effects). Participants (381 and 382 self-identified heterosexual men) were presented with a randomly assigned vignette describing a hypothetical sexual scenario in which a woman behaved either sexually assertive or sexually timid. Both studies indicated that men to some extent expressed disapproval of sexually assertive women. With the aim to assess if backlash effects were due to women’s sexual script deviation or if there was an overall negative evaluation of sexually assertive behavior irrespective of the target’s gender, in Study 2 we focused on the perception of sexually assertive behavior in both women and men (N = 268). Although we found that gender role conformity was held for women, but not for men, the results suggest that the negative evaluation of sexual assertiveness was not due to script deviation, but that there is an overall conservative attitude toward sexually assertive behavior. Our study provides some insight into the motives of traditional sexual script adherence particularly for women.


Sexual scripts Backlash effects Sexual double standard Sexual assertiveness Sexual script deviation 



We would like to thank Sandra Šević for her feedback on an earlier version of this article. This study was financially supported by a Ph.D. scholarship of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation awarded to Verena Klein.

Supplementary material

10508_2018_1280_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 21 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Verena Klein
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roland Imhoff
    • 2
  • Klaus Michael Reininger
    • 3
  • Peer Briken
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Sex Research and Forensic PsychiatryUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Social and Legal Psychology, Department of PsychologyJohannes Gutenberg University MainzMainzGermany
  3. 3.Department of Social and Political Psychology, Institute of PsychologyKiel UniversityKielGermany

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