Predicting Posttraumatic Growth in Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma: Gender Role Adherence is More Important Than Gender

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Abstract

While research supports a relationship between gender and posttraumatic growth (PTG), the relationship between gender norms and PTG is understudied. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship of gender role adherence to PTG in male and female survivors of interpersonal violence. Grounded in previous research, we hypothesized that men would report greater levels of experiencing nonsexual interpersonal violence than women and women would report greater levels of sexual interpersonal violence and PTG than men (Hypothesis 1); masculine traits would negatively predict PTG for all participants (Hypothesis 2); and feminine traits would positively predict PTG (Hypothesis 3). A sample of 119 college students who filled out questionnaires online and reported experiencing interpersonal violence was selected for this study. Hierarchical linear regressions were conducted predicting PTG. In contrast to previous research, gender did not predict PTG. Hypotheses 1 and 3 were supported and Hypothesis 2 was not supported. Masculine role adherence was the strongest positive predictor of PTG. Altruism paired with healthy masculine norms predicted PTG better than masculine norms alone. Feminine role adherence also positively predicted PTG. For intervention, changing how we look at gender roles can help address the wide-ranging effects of violence. Gender role adherence, rather than gender, may be a strong predictor of PTG after interpersonal violence.

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