College men's intimate partner violence attitudes: contributions of adult attachment and gender role stress

Ryon C McDermott, Frederick G Lopez
Journal of Counseling Psychology 2013, 60 (1): 127-36
Primary prevention of men's intimate partner violence (IPV) toward women in dating relationships is an important area of psychological inquiry and a significant concern for counselors working with college student populations. Previous research has identified that certain beliefs condoning or accepting physical, sexual, and psychological violence in relationships are key risk factors for IPV perpetration; however, comparatively few studies have examined the social and relational variables related to IPV acceptance attitudes. In the present study, we proposed and tested a structural model examining the combined contributions of adult attachment dimensions (i.e., attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance) and masculine gender role stress in the prediction of IPV acceptance attitudes in a large sample of college men (N = 419). We hypothesized that the relationship between attachment insecurity and IPV acceptance attitudes would be partially mediated by men's gender role stress. A partially mediated model produced the best indices of model fit, accounting for 31% of the variance in an IPV acceptance attitudes latent variable. A bootstrapping procedure confirmed the significance of mediation effects. These results suggest that aspects of adult attachment insecurity are associated with tendencies to experience stress from violations of rigidly internalized traditional male role norms, which, in turn, are associated with acceptance of IPV. Findings are further discussed in relation to adult attachment theory (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007), gender role strain theory (Pleck, 1995), and their implications for IPV prevention in college student populations.

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