Term of Award

Winter 2025

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Dorthie Cross-Mokdad

Committee Member 1

Nicolette Rickert

Committee Member 2

Rebekah-Ann Estevez


Research on fandom communities is relatively understudied. Specifically, perceptions surrounding consent, rape myth acceptance, and other factors such as gatekeeping attitudes and experiences with discrimination are understudied and undertheorized (Hale, 2014). Historically, sexual harassment has been a pervasive issue in spaces like video gaming communities, especially toward women (Barak, 2005). It is important to further investigate these behaviors in different areas, such as conventions (i.e., cons), because, like in video gaming communities, sexual harassment has been an ongoing issue in con spaces (Zarin, 2017). The current study addressed how cosplayers' dress impacts key aspects of sexual harassment, including perceptions of consent, rape myth acceptance and other identifying factors (i.e., gatekeeping attitudes, and discrimination). Two hundred ninety participants were recruited from a college student sample and fandom-related social media to complete an online study. Participants viewed images of women cosplayers dressed in more revealing or less revealing costumes. They answered questions about the importance of asking for consent before touching or taking pictures of each cosplayer. Participants also completed a self-report questionnaire about their belief in various rape myths, as well as their personal experiences attending cons and cosplaying. Results revealed no effect of cosplayer dress on ratings of consent importance, but rape myth acceptance was associated with lower importance placed on consent across conditions. Exploratory analyses of gatekeeping, discrimination, and harassment experiences at cons or while cosplaying revealed small differences for cisgender women and larger differences for LGBTQ+ participants and participants of color. No differences were reported in rape myth acceptance scores between rural and non-rural participants. Understanding why these behaviors (e.g., inappropriate touching, not asking for consent to pictures, stalking, etc.) occur is essential, and further exploring how these negative behaviors impact con-goers can provide meaningful information on how to create a safe environment for all con-goers. By further investigating the cons and behaviors in these settings, con organizers can set up safety measures to protect other con-goers from different forms of harassment.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


Available for download on Tuesday, April 15, 2025