Effects of Experimenter Contact, Setting, Inquiry Mode, and Race on Women's Self-Report of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors: An Experimental Study.

Archives of sexual behavior

PubMedID: 26310880

McCallum EB, Peterson ZD. Effects of Experimenter Contact, Setting, Inquiry Mode, and Race on Women's Self-Report of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors: An Experimental Study. Arch Sex Behav. 2015;.
Factors related to the research context, such as inquiry mode, setting, and experimenter contact, may affect participants' comfort with and willingness to disclose certain sexual attitudes or admit to engaging in sensitive sexual behaviors. In this study, 255 female undergraduates (42. 7 % non-White) completed a survey containing measures of sexual behavior and attitudes. The level of experimenter contact (high vs. low contact), setting (in lab vs. out of lab), and inquiry mode (pencil-and-paper vs. computer) were manipulated and participants were randomly assigned to conditions. We hypothesized that low-contact, out-of-lab, computer conditions would be associated with more liberal sexual attitudes and higher rates of reported sexual behaviors than high-contact, in-lab, and paper-and-pencil conditions, respectively. Further, we hypothesized that effects would be moderated by race, such that differences would be greater for non-White participants because of concerns that reporting socially undesirable behavior might fuel racial stereotypes. For attitudinal measures, White participants endorsed more liberal attitudes toward sex in high-contact conditions and non-White participants endorsed more liberal attitudes in low-contact conditions. For behavioral measures, non-White participants reported more behaviors on pencil-and-paper surveys than on computers. White participants demonstrated no significant mode-related differences or reported more sexual behaviors in computer conditions than paper-and-pencil conditions. Overall, results suggest that experimenter contact and mode significantly impact sexual self-report and this impact is often moderated by race.