Perceptions of Mock and Intentional Dating Aggression in Adolescent Males and Females
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Self-reports of adolescent physical dating aggression indicate that females perpetrate at equal to or higher rates than males. Before assuming females are more aggressive in their dating relationships, it is necessary to explore alternative explanations, such as gender differences in perceptions of playfulness and aggressiveness of mock dating aggression, which is typically shown through the use of smiles and positive affect. Participants (198 males and 169 females), between the ages of 17-21 years old (M = 18.52, SD = 0.90) were presented with vignettes describing scenarios of mock and intentional dating aggression occurring between an adolescent romantic couple. Participants were asked to rate their perceptions towards the playfulness and aggressiveness of the interaction and to indicate prior endorsement of both forms of dating aggression. Results demonstrated that adolescents perceived mock dating aggression as being more playful and less aggressive compared to intentional dating aggression. However, a significant interaction showed that males perceived intentional dating aggression as being more playful compared to females. Lastly, males reported perpetrating intentional aggression at a higher rate than females. These findings underline the importance of distinguishing between mock and intentional aggression when asking adolescents about dating aggression.