Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Self-defense for women--Psychological aspects; Women college students--Iowa--Attitudes; Self-efficacy; Women college students--Attitudes; Iowa; Academic theses;


Since the mid-l 970s, incidences of rape in the United States have steadily increased. American females aged 16-24 are at the greatest risk to experience rape. This indicates that college-aged women have a high probability of experiencing a sexual assault during their college years. Women are at particularly high risk of being raped by an acquaintance or a date. This may be due to traditional social gender roles in American society. Rape Aggression Defense Systems is the largest self defense program for women that has become particularly popular on college campuses. Ozer and Bandura (1990) sought to study possible increases in women's self-efficacy in preventing assault after participation in a self defense program. Their study found that at posttest and at a 6 month follow-up that there were significant changes in all dependent variables measured. Walsh, De Vellis, and De Vellis ( 1997) developed scales to measure women's susceptibility to date and acquaintance rape (DAR). Their study successfully created three reliable DAR scales. The present study utilizes the Ozer and Bandura (1990) measurements and the Walsh et al. self-efficacy DAR scale to assess changes in self-efficacy for participants in the RADS program. Past sexual experiences of participants and their depression levels are strong determinants in self-efficacy levels. Six questions from the Koss, Gidycz, and Wisniewski (1987) Sexual Experiences Survey were included in the survey. Two control groups used in this study consisted of undergraduate women attending The University of Northern Iowa that were enrolled in either the RADS program (N = 9) or a self defense course (N = 23). The one comparison group consisted of undergraduate women attending The University of Northern Iowa that were (N= 23) enrolled in the Aerobic Exercise course. No participants in this study had previous self defense training. Participants in the treatment and comparison groups were assessed at the beginning of the first class and at the end of the last class for measures such as self-efficacy, enhancement of self defense skills, attitude, and behavior.

Results showed that there was statistical significance found between the control groups and comparison group for all variables measured. However, there were not any changes in the groups from pretest to posttest. Hypothesis tested differences between and within groups for self defense, interpersonal and activities of self-efficacy. Knowledge, attitudes and perceived susceptibility towards date and acquaintance rape was also studied. In addition, a significant report of prior sexual victimization among the participants was noted between groups. Statistical significance was found between groups despite the limited participation in the RADS program (N = 9). However, because of the limited number of participants it was not possible to detect differences with the groups from pretest to posttest.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Diane Depken

Second Advisor

Michael Fleming

Third Advisor

Janet Hurley


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Date Original


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