How to score the sexual experiences survey? a comparison of nine methods

Kelly Cue Davis, Amanda K. Gilmore, Cynthia A. Stappenbeck, Michael J. Balsan, William H. George, Jeanette Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Objective: Although assessments of sexual assault victimization and perpetration have greatly improved, current scoring methods do not fully utilize the wealth of information they provide. The present studies assessed new methods for scoring sexual assault severity using the Sexual Experiences Survey (SES; Koss et al., 2007). Method: In 2 studies of female (n = 436) and male (n = 313) nonproblem drinkers who had engaged in unprotected sex within the past year, we compared 3 severity-ranking schemes, as well as 3 scoring methods per severity scheme for a total of 9 scoring methods. New severity-ranking schemes considered tactic types separately, varied combinations of assault outcomes, and accounted for multiple types and frequencies of assaults. Measures assessing convergent validity were also administered. Results: Seventy-eight percent (n = 340) of the women reported victimization, and 58% (n = 180) of the men reported perpetration. All severity scoring methods were strongly associated with convergent measures. Conclusions: Each scoring method is viable; however, especially among samples with greater victimization/perpetration rates, there can be advantages to incorporating multiple types and frequencies of assault experiences into SES scores. Recent refinements of the SES necessitate commensurate improvements in its scoring methods in order to significantly advance the field of sexual assault assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-461
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Perpetration
  • Psychometrics
  • Sexual aggression
  • Sexual assault severity
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


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