Using the Media Practice Model to Examine Dating Violence in Emerging Adults

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Abstract

Intimate partner violence (IPV), in particular dating violence, occurs at alarmingly high rates in emerging adulthood and is associated with negative consequences. Various predictors of dating violence have been studied, but few studies have considered the role of media outside of aggressive media consumption. Based on the Media Practice Model (Steele & Brown, 1995), the present study examined measures of early experiences (e.g., family relationships, peer support of aggression), individual factors (e.g., religiosity, self-esteem, dating and sexual experiences), media use (identification, influence, and preference for aggressive media), as well as attitudes supportive of violence and dating violence victimization and perpetration. Participants were 417 emerging adults (71% female) who completed an online survey. The majority of the sample had both experienced and perpetrated some type of dating violence. The final multigroup structural equation model fit the data adequately with relatively few gender differences. Having more conflict-laden, less supportive early family relationships was related to numerous risk factors (e.g., less religiosity, having peers who were more supportive of aggression, lower self-esteem), which generally related to the media variables, specifically greater identification with people in the media, as well as more influence by and preference for aggressive media. In general, there was evidence that media use mediated the relationships between early lived experience, individual factors, and attitudes accepting of aggression in relationships, as well as overall experience with dating violence. Implications for future research and preventative programing including conflict resolution training and media literacy programing for both young people and families, are discussed.

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