Fear of abandonment, borderline personality features, and attitudes regarding Intimate Partner Victimization

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Malachi Willis (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Rosemery Nelson-Gray

Abstract: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by unstable interpersonal relationships and frantic efforts to avoid abandonment (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Intimate partner victimization (IPV) is overrepresented within the romantic relationships of those with BPD and also affects them more negatively (Bouchard, Sabourin, Lussier, & Villeneuve, 2009). However, on the individual level, there may also be a particular mechanism by which people with BPD are more often victimized by their romantic partners (Few & Rosen, 2005). The aspect of BPD that best explains this association is potentially its hallmark diagnostic criterion—fear of abandonment. This study attempted to induce feelings of insecurity about one’s romantic relationship—using a false feedback manipulation—to see if this prime leads to attitudes more tolerant of sexual coercion from a romantic partner, which is a risk factor for intimate partner victimization. Participants were randomly told that they match poorly or highly with their partners. Participants higher in BPD features reported more tolerant attitudes toward sexual coercion. Moreover, there may be a significant interaction between BPD traits and condition. Those in the poorly matched condition expressed more tolerant attitudes toward sexual coercion the higher their borderline features; this association was not present in the highly matched condition. Follow-up analyses investigated various motivations for and approaches to sexual behavior. It appears that those higher in borderline features in the poorly matched condition use sexual behavior to avoid losing their partner or having conflict with their partner.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Borderline personality, Fear of abandonment, Romantic relationships, Sexual coercion
Borderline personality disorder
Interpersonal relations
Security (Psychology)
Intimate partner violence
Sexual consent

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