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Intimate partner abuse is a pervasive and destructive phenomenon in the United States (Breiding, Chen, & Black, 2014). Although previous research has attempted to define its components and dynamics, the study of psychological abuse is less developed in comparison to research on physical abuse. Some researchers have studied intimate partner abuse alongside American constructs of masculinity but have not adequately extended it to psychological abuse. The present study seeks to examine perceptions of psychological abuse in conjunction with conformity to traditional masculine norms among American cisgender men. Masculine ideology in the U.S. prescribes dominance and control, which is theorized to normalize acts of psychological abuse in heterosexual dating couples (Moore & Stuart, 2005). Men who conform more to masculine norms (high masculine conformity participants) were predicted to rate vignettes of psychological abuse as more normal, less abusive, and less harmful in comparison to men who conform less to masculine norms (low masculine conformity participants). Differences in perceptions were also predicted to be more pronounced when overt psychological abuse was presented compared to when subtle psychological abuse was presented. Results indicated that a relationship between masculine conformity and perceptions of psychological abuse does exist; compared to low masculine conformity participants, high masculine conformity participants rated overt social isolation/restriction behavior as less abusive and less harmful. High masculine conformity participants also rated inducing guilt/shifting responsibility behavior as more normal overall. Further examination of this relationship is recommended, as this research can be used to more effectively address intimate partner abuse in the United States and beyond.
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Lian, Aileen, "“Boys Will Be Boys”: Examining the Relationship Between Men’s Conformity to Masculine Norms and Perceptions of Psychological Abuse" (2018). Senior Projects Spring 2018. 267.