Defining Sexual Consent: Perspectives from a College Student Population

Lori A. Bednarchik, Mark Alan Generous, Paul Mongeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The current investigation explored how college students define sexual consent, and the sources from which they developed these definitions. Thematic analysis generated five categories of consent definitions: permission, agreement, willingness, wanted-ness, and contextual elements (i.e., stipulations regarding the consent process; behaviors that require sexual consent). Participants’ sources from which they learned about the definition of sexual consent included: educational experiences, friends, family, school, media, personal experiences, and unsure/common sense. Findings highlight the complex nature of sexual consent as a communicative construct and the varied sources from which college students constructed their conceptualization of consent. Implications for college health and sexual assault programming, as well as for researchers looking to further explore the multi-faceted construct of sexual consent, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunication Reports
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • College Students
  • Definition
  • Qualitative Analysis
  • Sexual Consent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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