Do Peer Networks Influence Male Sexual Aggression?

A study published in Psychology of Violence examinedpredictors of sexually aggressive behaviors with an existing model of sexual aggression to include attitudinal and structural variables of participants' peer groups.  A battery of questionnaires was administered to 341 college-aged men via web-based survey. Participants were asked to report their previous sexual behavior, attitudes toward women and sexual aggression, the strength of relationships within their peer network, and their peers' attitudes toward women and sexual aggression. Findings suggest perceived peer rape-supportive attitudes significantly influence individual members' hostile attitudes toward women. Peer network density negatively predicted hostile attitudes—individuals with tightly knit peer groups tend to have less hostile attitudes toward women; there was a significant interaction between peer group density and perceived peer rape-supportive attitudes in predicting individuals' hostile attitudes toward women—individuals in high-density, low-hostility peer groups had the lowest average levels of hostility toward women. The findings suggest perceived peer attitudes and structure of peer networks influence individuals' attitudes concerning violence and hostility toward women, factors long known to predict both physical and sexual violence against women. These findings may be implemented through peer-focused bystander intervention programs aimed at reducing sexual aggression.

For the abstract


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