Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The decline in the rate of marriage in the African American community has been documented in both the empirical literature and pop culture. Initially researchers postulated that the upward mobility of African American women had diminished their to marry, but studies found opposing evidence to that theory and so the focus switched to African American men. Early studies about African American men and marriage indicated that the sex-ratio imbalance, the educational disparity between African American men and women that leads to economic frailty was the major cause of the disparity in marriage (James et al 1999, Davis, Emerson, & Williams, 1997, James, 1998, King & Allen, 2009). While external factors and the way those external forces affect African American men's marriage behaviors have received attention in the literature, no attention has been given to the intrinsic psychological processes that affect how African American men conceptualize marriage. The purpose of this study was to explore African American men's attitudes toward marriage. What do African American men think about marriage? How do they form their attitudes about marriage? What messages have they received about marriage? A series of focus groups were conducting with African American men aged 24-34 years (N= 17). Participants were asked questions that inquired about how the men feel about marriage, how they learned about marriage, and what they learned about marriage. Guided by a phenomenological premise, axial coding data analysis revealed several themes including positive and ambivalent attitudes towards marriage, struggles of Black masculinity, dilemmas within the Black male-female dynamic, and role confusion; resulting in Gender Role Conflict as it relates to marriage. Suggestions for future research and theory regarding African American men and marriage and clinical implications for individual and couples work with Black men is discussed.

Creative Commons License

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