The Role of Dominant Personality Traits in Multiple Perpetrator Rape Proclivity


  • Alessia A. Petrella
  • Leigh Harkins


Background/Aim: Multiple perpetrator sexual assaults (MPSA) often involve more severe forms of sexual violation and result in a host of impairments for the victim. To further investigate the characteristics of MPSA, researchers have taken an interest in personality traits, varying group dynamics, and the role a leader may play. This study examines the possible linkage between dominant personality characteristics and the propensity to engage in multiple perpetrator sexual assault.

Method: Using anonymous online surveys, university student participants were assessed on The Personality Scale for Dominance and the Multiple Perpetrator Rape Proclivity Scale (M-PRIS). We hypothesized that dominant personality traits would predict M-PRIS proclivity score.

Results: Of 176 respondents, 84 heterosexual males completed both measures. Dominance scores did not significantly predict total M-PRIS score, F(1,82) = 1.1, p = .296, the Enjoyment subscale score, F(1,82) = .66, p = .420, the Likelihood subscale score, F(1,86) = 1.13, p = .292, or the Arousal subscale score, F(1,82) = 0.66, p = .419.

Conclusion: In this study, dominance was not associated with a proclivity for multiple perpetrator sexual violence. Other important factors, such as psychopathy or deviant sexual interests, may mediate the relationship between dominant personality traits and the tendency to initiate a multiple perpetrator sexual assault. Future studies should examine alternative relationships in hopes of gaining a clearer picture of individuals who exhibit a proclivity for sexual violence with the aim to inform prevention and practice.