Trajectories and Predictors of Sexually Aggressive Behaviors During Emerging Adulthood

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Objective: To assess longitudinal trajectories of college males’ sexually aggressive behaviors and determine time-varying individual- and peer-level risk factors that differentiate men who follow these different paths. Method: Our analytic sample consisted of 795 men who participated in a longitudinal study on high-risk behaviors among college students. The sample was surveyed at the end of each of their 4 years at university on a variety of measures, including sexual aggression (SA) and its hypothesized risk factors (hostile masculinity, number of sexual partners, alcohol misuse, and peer norms). Results: Using latent growth mixture modeling, we found four distinct SA trajectories: (a) consistently high, (b) decreasing, (c) increasing, and (d) consistently low. Multinomial logistic regression revealed that hostile masculinity and peer norms positively predicted trajectory membership at times when each trajectory reflected a high level of SA. Conclusions: Our study adds to the knowledge base by elucidating the different ways sexually aggressive behaviors change during emerging adulthood and how confluence-model-derived factors predict the different trajectories. The finding that changes over time in these risk factors correspond with SA perpetration risk informs prevention programming by illuminating the importance of continual focus on these risk factors throughout the college years, perhaps through annual self-assessments.

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