The Frequency and Perceived Impact of Engaging in In-Person and Cyber Unwanted Pursuit after Relationship Break-Up among College Men and Women
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The present study examined the extent of cyber and in-person unwanted pursuit behaviors (UPBs) reported by undergraduate men and women who pursued former partners and the pursuer’s perceptions of the impact of their pursuit on their targets. Among a sample of 1167 undergraduates (66.8 % women; 95.4 % heterosexual) approximately 80 % of men and women reported engaging in UPBs toward former partners, with cyber pursuit endorsed by a subset of those who engaged in in-person UPBs. Despite few gender differences in overall pursuit, men endorsed engaging in a number of specific behaviors more than did women. Most UPBs did receive responses from targets, and pursuers generally did not perceive their behaviors as annoying, threatening, or frightening. Women perceived that targets had more negative responses to UPBs, particularly to threatening or violent pursuit, and men perceived more positive or neutral responses overall. Minor UPBs were associated with relationship reconciliation among women and men, whereas severe UPBs were associated with reconciliation among men only. Results suggest that pursuers likely underestimate the impact of their behaviors on targets and that pursuers’ efforts, even severe and threatening, are often reinforced, particularly for men who pursue. Universities must be aware of UPBs and provide prevention programs specific to healthy relationship dissolution and pursuit. Provision of corrective information regarding the impact of severe and threatening pursuit may assist in reducing these behaviors.
KeywordsRelationship termination Stalking Unwanted pursuit behaviors Pursuers Partner abuse Technology
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The manuscript represents original and valid work and neither this manuscript nor one with similar content under my authorship has been published or is being considered for publication elsewhere. There are no funding sources to report for the present manuscript. To the best of our knowledge, no conflict of interest, financial or other, exists. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the university in which it was conducted prior to data collection. Informed consent was presented prior to the study, and participants were provided options for partial course credit in the place of research participation (i.e., brief article reviews), if desired. Debriefing materials were provided at the end of the study. No animals were involved in the present study.
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