Mechanisms Linking Masculine Discrepancy Stress and the Perpetration of Intimate Partner Violence Among Men in the United States
Although studies show that masculine discrepancy stress (i.e., the intrapsychic strain associated with failing to meet internalized masculine ideals) is associated with intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration, little is known about the processes underlying this association. There may be other social psychological constructs at play that explain this relationship further. The present study uses recently collected data from a national survey of men living in the United States (n = 711) to formally test whether the effects of discrepancy stress on three different forms of IPV perpetration are mediated by anger, self-esteem, and perceived powerlessness. We find that discrepancy stress is directly associated with higher levels of anger, lower levels self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, and a greater odds of perpetrating any physical IPV and severe physical IPV resulting in injuries, but not sexual IPV perpetration in our sample of men. Our mediation analyses confirms that masculine discrepancy stress is indirectly associated with perpetrating all three forms of IPV through the mechanism of anger. Self-esteem and perceived powerlessness are not supported as mediators. These findings add to our understanding of the link between masculinity and violence perpetration and can inform IPV reduction interventions. Gender transformative interventions that reduce discrepancy stress among men by shifting men’s adherence to traditional masculine norms, and that integrate anger management strategies, should be explored in future research.