Emerging Adult African American Men: Romantic Relationship Profiles and Predictors
Allen, Kimberly A. (Kimberly Arthina) (author)
Gonzales-Backen, Melinda A. (professor co-directing dissertation)
Kogan, Steven M. (professor co-directing dissertation)
Brewster, Karin L. (university representative)
Rehm, Marsha Lynn (committee member)
Cui, Ming, 1971- (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Human Sciences (degree granting college)
Department of Family and Child Sciences (degree granting department)
Establishing stable, high quality romantic relationships is an important developmental task during emerging adulthood with prognostic significance for future relationship development such as marriage (Fincham & Cui, 2011). Studies suggest that considerable challenges exist for African American men in developing and maintaining healthy romantic relationships. These studies suggest that man African American men may be more likely to pursue a sexual partnership trajectory that involves multiple and/or concurrent sexual partners at the expense of committed monogamous romantic relationships (Bowleg, 2004). Such patterns of involvement increase the likelihood that as young adults, African American men will place themselves at risk of contracting and transmitting sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS (Adimora et al., 2004). Individuals enter into romantic relationships already having exposure to numerous developmental influences that affect their behavior. Exposure to adversity during childhood, such as abuse, neglect, and other stressors, is one important factor in understanding the development of satisfying and committed romantic relationships (Miller et al., 2011; Walker, Holman, & Busby, 2009). Informed by the internal working model persepctive (Hazan &Shaver, 1987) and research on abuse and other adversities (e.g. Burton & Jarrett, 2000; McLoyd, et al., 2000; Umberson, Williams, Thomas, Liu, & Thomeer, 2014), we hypothesized that young men with elevated levels of adversity would evince relationships characterized by one of two patterns. The first involves avoiding deeper levels of commitment and participating in relatively superficial romantic relationships. The second pattern involves participating highly committed relationships, but projecting their anxieties and fears in ways that create volatile and conflictual interactions. For men with low levels of adversity I expected that there relationships would conform to a more healthy pattern as characterized by commitment, low levels of conflict and supportive relationships. Hypotheses were tested with data from men in committed relationships in the African American Men's Health Project (AMP), which included 361 African American men between the ages of 19 and 22 years. To better understand the kinds of relationships that young, African American men participate in, I conducted a person-centered analysis which confirmed the expected relationship patterns. I identified three profiles or relationship types: (1) healthy relationships, (2) volatile relationships, and (3) superficial relationships. The participants in healthy romantic relationships are characterized by high commitment and support and low criticism and conflict. The volatile group is characterized by high commitment, criticism, conflict, and low support. The superficial group is characterized by low commitment, support, criticism, and conflict. Further analysis confirmed that more adverse childhood experiences predicted increased odds of belonging to a volatile instead of a healthy relationship. Findings suggest targets for preventive interventions designed to foster healthy relationships among African American men.
African American Men, Childhood Adversity, Romantic Relationships, Schema, Street Code
June 17, 2015.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Family and Child Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Melinda Gonzales-Backen, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Steven Kogan, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Karin Brewster, University Representative; Marsha Rehm, Committee Member; Ming Cui, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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