Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Gender norms that promote male dominance and control lead to greater violence against females and deleterious health effects for males (Reed, Raj, Miller & Silverman, 2010). A strict adherence to female gender roles is associated with a greater likelihood to be in an abusive relationship and a greater length of time to leave an abusive relationship (Molidar & Tollman, 1998). Adolescence is a developmental time where boys and girls rigidly follow gender stereotypes (Alfieri, Ruble, & Higgins, 1996). Three-fourths of adolescents have been in a dating relationship by their senior year in high school (Carver et al., 2003). The combination of strict adherence to gender norms and the likelihood of entering into a dating relationship make adolescence an ideal time to provide education and prevention. Flexibility in gender norms in adolescence can provide an adolescent with better communication skills, which is essential for healthy relationships (Sullivan et. al, 2010). Short-term gender norm focused prevention programs may hold great promise for youth. These prevention efforts could contribute to the amelioration of the devastating effects of dating violence in adolescence and into adulthood (Foshee, 1996). This study sought to determine if a short-term gender norm focused dating violence prevention program (Reaching and Teaching Teens) would change the stereotypical gender norm attitudes of adolescents. In particular, this study addressed these research questions: (a) Did participants in a 3-session Toxic Scripts intervention demonstrate greater average stereotypical gender norms attitude change than participants in a delayed treatment control group, and (b) were differences maintained over a one-month post-treatment period. Stereotypical gender norm change of the participants was assessed by administering the Attitudes Towards Women Scale (ATWS, Galambos, Petersen, Richards, & Gitelson, 1985; Dahlberg, L.L., Toal, S.B., Swahn, M., & Behrens, C.B., 2005). Participants included 23 adolescents in an after-school program, 13 in the experimental group and 10 in the control group. There were no statistically significant differences found in gender norm attitudes between experimental and control groups. Post-hoc analyses indicated that gender was proven to be significantly associated with ATWS scores at pre-test with females having significantly higher scores than their male counterparts. Limitations are discussed including; small sample size, difficulty with recruitment, attrition, dosage, measurement, gender norm differences among ethnicities, difficulties with community agencies and possible ineffectiveness of the program. Future dating violence prevention research should seek to minimize the impact these hurdles have on the results of the study. More research is needed on how gender norm attitudes change and effective ways to bring about this change.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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