Moorman, J.D. (2022). Unmarried Black Women’s Sexual Socialization: The Role of Dating, Motherhood, and Intimate Partner Violence Across Media Types. Sex Roles 87, 289–305.

The terms single and singlehood conflate marital (e.g. divorced, widowed, and never married) and relationship (e.g. partnered or not) statuses, complicating researchers’ understandings of their unique impact on women’s lives. Despite qualitative research demonstrating unmarried and unpartnered statuses have distinct implications for women’s sexual socialization, little quantitative research has explored these differences. To address this gap, the current project surveyed 506 unmarried Black women (Mage = 33.02) to explore how common singlehood experiences (dating, motherhood, and intimate partner violence [IPV]) moderated associations between respondents’ media use (television, social media, movies, and magazines) and relationship beliefs. This project focused on Black women because of their high rates of unmarried status and the pervasiveness of media stereotypes of their singlehood. Hierarchical linear regressions and the PROCESS model were used to test two-way interactions of media and singlehood experiences. Ecological systems and cultivation theories guided analyses. Across the dependent variables, media types were differentially associated with measures of relationship beliefs and these associations were differentially moderated by singlehood experiences. Weekly television was the most consistent predictor of relationship beliefs and experience with IPV was the most consistent moderator of associations. Women without partners, children, or experiences of IPV exhibited significant associations between media and relationship beliefs while their more experienced peers did not, suggesting singlehood experiences and media work together to shape unmarried Black women’s sexual socialization, though more work is needed to determine how. Results illuminated key differences between groups of unmarried Black women, complicating current understandings of single status and challenging how singlehood is conceptualized in sexual socialization research.