The Influence of Sexual Aggression Perpetration History and Emotion Regulation on Men’s Aggressive Responding Following Social Stress

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Abstract

Relationship aggression among college students continues to be a significant social issue. A large body of survey research has identified several risk factors for relationship aggression; however, a need exists to identify mechanistic risk factors that are enacted in social contexts. The current study used an experimental design to examine the role of sexual assault perpetration history and impulse control difficulties on laboratory aggression toward a female confederate following a social stress task. The female confederate provided either negative or positive feedback during the social stress task. It was expected that a three-way interaction would emerge between condition, sexual assault perpetration history, and impulse control difficulties for laboratory aggression. The hypotheses were partially supported in that men who received negative feedback, had a history of sexual aggression perpetration, and had impulse control difficulties responded more aggressively. The findings suggest that within a social context, men who receive negative feedback (i.e., social rejection) may be more likely to respond aggressively toward a female if he has a history of sexual aggression perpetration and impulse control difficulties.

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