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Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2022 Abstracts

Evaluating Sensemaking Processes and Sexual Assault Attitudes at Faith Based Universities

Presenters: Madeline Shaw
Authors: Madeline Shaw, Anastasia Gawrys
Faculty Advisor: Kari O'Grady
Institution: Brigham Young University

Abstract Recent research on sensemaking processes has led to a more effective understanding of individual and community responses to cosmology episodes. A “cosmology is a spiritual-cultural-sociohistorical-macrolevel humanistic perspective that frames large-scale catastrophes” (Roysircar et al., 2019, p. 119) and cosmology episodes occur when this sensemaking frame collapses. Such studies have been conducted in twelve distinct arenas: collapses, fires, wrecks, capsizings, crashes, accidents, explosions, leaks, errors, outbreaks, and – the focus of this presentation – abuses.Related studies are finding that abuses are not merely catastrophes in their own right, but they can complexify other catastrophes. The purpose of this current study is to explore the intricate ways one example of institutional abuse intertwines and affects the sensemaking framework of individuals and universities.A cross-sectional study was conducted assessing sexual assault attitudes at a large faith based university. The first study was conducted in 2011 and the most recent in 2019 with minimal differences in data collection and measures. The purpose of this study was to first identify whether students’ attitudes towards sexual assault have changed from 2011 to 2019. Second, to address the sensemaking framework for survivors of sexual assault at faith-based universities and the implications this has for universities to more effectively respond to sexual assault and related institutional abuses. The results from this study indicate a decrease in sexual assault attitudes and rape myth acceptance but still show troubling findings that implicate a need to further understand sensemaking processes in the realm of institutional abuses. Keywords: Sexual Assault, Institutional Abuse, Sensemaking, Cosmologies