McKibbin, W. F., & Shackelford, T.K. (2011). Women’s avoidance of rape. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 16, 437-443.

Women’s avoidance of rape

William F. McKibbin and Todd K. Shackelford


Females of many species have recurrently faced the adaptive problem of rape over the species’ evolutionary
history. In humans, rape of women by men has occurred throughout recorded history and across cultures, and exacts on women severe psychological, physical, and reproductive costs. Women therefore may have evolved psychological mechanisms that motivate rape avoidance behaviors. We provide an overview of recent theoretical and empirical research addressing women’s rape avoidance psychology and behavior from an evolutionary perspective. This research indicates that women may possess evolved mechanisms that motivate rape avoidance. We conclude by highlighting several directions for research that may further clarify the design features of human female evolved mechanisms that motivate rape avoidance

Read more

McKibbin, W.F., Shackelford, T.K., Miner, E. J., Bates, V. M., & Liddle, J. R. (2011). Individual differences in women’s rape avoidance behaviors. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 343-349.

Individual Differences in Women’s Rape Avoidance Behaviors

William F. McKibbin, Todd K. Shackelford, Emily J. Miner, Vincent M. Bates & James R. Liddle


Rape can exact severe psychological, physical, and reproductive costs on women, and likely was a recurrent adaptive problem over human evolutionary history. Therefore, women may have evolved psychological mechanisms that motivate rape avoidance behaviors. Guided heuristically by an evolutionary perspective, we tested the hypothesis that women’s rape avoidance behaviors would vary with several individual difference variables. Specifically, we predicted that rape avoidance behaviors would covary positively with (1) women’s attractiveness, (2) women’s involvement in a committed romantic relationship, and (3) the number of family members living nearby. We also predicted that women’s rape avoidance behaviors would covary negatively with age. We administered the Rape Avoidance Inventory (McKibbin et al.,Pers Indiv Differ 39:336–340, 2009) and a demographic survey to a sample of women (n=144). The results of correlational and regression analyses were consistent with the predictions, with the exception that women’s rape avoidance behaviors did not covary with women’s age. Discussion highlighted limitations of the current research and directions for future research on women’s rape avoidance psychology and behaviors.

Read more

McKibbin, W. F., Shackelford, T.K., Goetz, A.T., Bates, V.M. Starratt, V.G., & Miner, E.J. (2009). Development and Initial Psychometric Assessment of the Rape Avoidance Inventory. Personality and Individual Differences, 39, 336-340.

 Development and initial psychometric assessment of the
rape avoidance inventory

William F. McKibbin, Todd K. Shackelford, Aaron T. Goetz, Vincent M. Bates,
Valerie G. Starratt, Emily J. Miner


 Rape is a traumatic event with severe consequences for women. Therefore, women may have evolved
psychological mechanisms that motivate them to avoid circumstances linked with rape. We present the development and initial psychometric assessment of an inventory designed to assess women’s rape avoidance behaviors. In Study 1 (N = 99), we conducted an act nomination procedure to identify specific behaviors for inclusion in a preliminary rape avoidance inventory. In Study 2 (N = 144), we secured performance reports for the behaviors assessed by the inventory. We present the results of principal components analyses and the construction of the rape avoidance inventory (RAI). We identified four components of women’s rape avoidance behaviors as assessed by the RAI: avoid strange men, avoid appearing sexually receptive, avoid being alone, and awareness of surroundings/defensive preparedness. We demonstrate that, as predicted, performance of rape avoidance behaviors is negatively associated with a measure of interest in and pursuit of short-term sex. We conclude that the RAI is a useful tool for future research on rape avoidance and rape prevention

Read more

McKibbin, W.F., Shackelford, T. K., Goetz, A. T., & Starratt, V. G. (2008). Why do men rape? An evolutionary psychological perspective. Review of General Psychology, 12, 86-97.

Why Do Men Rape? An Evolutionary Psychological Perspective

William F. McKibbin, Todd K. Shackelford, Aaron T. Goetz, and Valerie G. Starratt

Florida Atlantic University

Rape of women by men has occurred throughout recorded history and across cultures. In this article, we discuss rape from an evolutionary psychological perspective. Evolutionary psychology is a powerful heuristic tool that allows researchers to develop and test novel hypotheses about complex behaviors such as rape. Some researchers have argued that men have evolved psychological mechanisms that motivate them to rape in specific contexts. We discuss evidence consistent with this claim, and argue that a more nuanced view of men’s rape behavior is necessary. We propose that it may be useful to characterize rapists as belonging to one of several types, distinguished by individual differences as well as by the circumstances in which they are predicted to commit rape. We discuss research evidence in support of each rapist type, as well as the need for future research. Finally, we discuss
research concerning women’s rape-avoidance psychology and behavior.

Read more