Insecure Parental Attachment and Permissiveness: Risk Factors for Unwanted Sex Among Emerging Adults

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The research based on attachment has shown that patterns of relating with primary caregivers in childhood and adolescence influence a person into adulthood, especially with regard to interpersonal relationships, including sexual intimacy. This study utilized a measure of adult parental attachment style to determine whether the perception of one's patterns of relating with parental figures in childhood and one's sexual attitudes are associated with unwanted sexual experiences, ranging from consensual unwanted sex and verbal coercion to more severe forms of coercion, including substance-related and physical coercion. The sample included 488 male and female college students, primarily in the age range of emerging adulthood. Analysis involved canonical correlation, which showed that individuals with avoidant parental attachment styles reported more occurrences of unwanted sex, with gender differences moderating the types of unwanted sex experienced. Of the sexual attitudes, permissiveness emerged as the strongest indicator of unwanted sexual experiences, at times interacting with avoidant attachment. Gender was a moderating variable. The authors conclude with practical implications and suggestions for future research. © 2015, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.

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The Family Journal

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