My beliefs of my peers' beliefs: exploring the gendered nature of social norms in adolescent romantic relationships
Hertzog, Jodie; Rowley, Rochelle. 2014. My beliefs of my peers' beliefs: exploring the gendered nature of social norms in adolescent romantic relationships. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 29:no. 2:pp 348-369
Dating violence in adolescent relationships is a growing social problem in the United States. A majority of adolescents have dated by the time they finish high school and these experiences have an impact on their relationship trajectories as adults. Although more and more prevention efforts are aimed at reducing teen dating violence and/or teaching adolescents about healthy relationships, very few of these efforts investigate discrepancies in descriptive and injunctive norms associated with adolescent dating. This pilot study adds to the existing literature by investigating the dating norms of early and mid-adolescents to aid in tailoring prevention efforts among this population. One hundred eighty-seven middle and high school student leaders from public schools in the Midwest completed an annual relationship survey. Findings suggest that participants did not support unhealthy relationship norms overall. However, two patterns of discrepancies emerged: one between participant attitudes (descriptive norms) and their perceptions of peer attitudes (injunctive norms), and another between perceptions participants hold about their male versus female peers' beliefs. Results imply the development of pluralistic ignorance occurs during adolescence and that perceptions of peer norms are in line with the principles of hegemonic masculinity. Implications for possible prevention initiatives and future research directions are noted.