Defense mechanisms of stranger violent college student men



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Texas Tech University


Physical violence is a significant health problem m the United States (Potter & Mercy, 1997). Arrest rates for physical violence m the United States reach a peak among older adolescents and young adults, whose offenses represented more than 50% of the nonfatal crimes of violence (U.S. Department of Justice, 1992, 2001). Adolescent males are four times more likely to be involved m a physical fight resulting in injury than female counterparts (U.S. Department of Justice, 1992). College age men are at an age when violence reaches a peak (U.S. Department of Justice, 2001) and many college men report violence toward strangers (Dromgoole & Cogan, 1995; Ballinger, 2001). Attempts to understand college student men who are violent toward strangers have been surprisingly limited. The purpose of this study is to investigate several characteristics of college men who are violent toward strangers.

Defense mechanisms, antisocial personality features, and alcohol use problems of thirty men who reported no violence within the past year and 30 men who reported violence toward strangers within the past year were compared. Defense mechanisms were identified based on responses to the Defensive Style Questionnaire-40 (DSQ-40; Andrews, Singh, & Bond; 1993) and six Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943) cards scored with the Defense Mechanisms Manual (DMM; Cramer, 1991a). Two trained graduate students, blind to the group membership of the participant, independently scored the DMM (Cramer, 1991a). After inter-rater reliability was computed, the two raters discussed and resolved scoring differences. The mutually agreed scores were used for statistical analyses. Antisocial features and alcohol use problems were assessed based on responses to three scales (Pd, ASP, and MAC-R) of the Miruiesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2; Butcher et al., 1989). The inter-rater reliability of the two coders' scores was adequate. Between group differences were evaluated with the multivariate analysis of variance and any significant main effects were followed by analysis of variance tests. It was found that student men who were violent toward strangers were more likely than non-violent student men to use primitive defense mechanisms, have antisocial features, and have an indication of alcohol related problems.