Limited research has considered individual perceptions of moral distinctions between consensual and nonconsensual intimate image sharing, as well as decision making parameters around why others might engage in such behavior. The current study conducted a perception analysis using mixed-methods online surveys administered to 63 participants, inquiring into their perceptions of why individuals engage in certain behaviors surrounding the sending of intimate images from friends and partners. The study found that respondents favored the concepts of (1) sharing images with romantic partners over peers; (2) sharing non-intimate images over intimate images; and (3) sharing images with consent rather than without it. Furthermore, participants were more willing to use their own devices to show both intimate and non-intimate images rather than posting on social media or directly sending others the image files. Drawing on descriptive quantitative and thematic qualitative analysis, the findings suggest that respondents perceive nonconsensual image sharing as being motivated by the desire to either bully, “show off,” or for revenge. In addition, sharing intimate digital images of peers and romantic partners without consent was perceived to be troubling because it is abusive and/or can lead to abuse (when involving peers) and a violation of trust (when involving romantic partners).

Note on the Author(s)

Jin Ree Lee works at School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, United States of America; 655 Auditorium Road, Baker Hall Rm 138,E-mail: leejin26@msu.edu