Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Predictors of Dating Violence: A Multivariate Analysis

Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Predictors of Dating Violence: A Multivariate Analysis

Article excerpt

A multivariate approach was used to determine the pattern of predictors associated with engaging in dating violence. Predictors were selected whose relationship to dating violence has been established by earlier research: attitudes toward violence, sex-role attitudes, romantic jealousy, general levels of interpersonal aggression, verbal aggression, and verbal and physical aggression received from one's partner. Participants included 305 introductory psychology student volunteers (227 females and 78 males) who completed a set of scales related to dating relationships. Expecting different patterns of predictors to emerge for men and women, we performed separate multiple regression analyses for each. Of the set of predictors employed, receipt of physical violence from one's partner emerged as the largest predictor of expressed violence for both men and women. In addition, higher scores on attitudes toward violence and verbal aggression, and less traditional sex-role attitudes emerged as significant predictors of expressed violence for men. For women, less accepting attitudes toward violence, more traditional sex-role attitudes, feelings of romantic jealousy, higher general levels of interpersonal aggression, and verbal aggression were predictive of expressed violence. The implications of our findings for future research are discussed.

Recent explanatory models of dating violence emphasize the need to study this phenomenon within the context of several coexisting risk factors instead of considering only isolated variables (Burke, Stets, & Pirog-Good, 1989; Riggs & O'Leary, 1989). Such an approach can be expected to yield a more comprehensive understanding of the factors that are associated with an individual's likelihood to engage in dating violence. It also permits one to study the predictive power of variables within the context of other more (or less) powerful predictors. However, existing models offer generalized explanations for both female- and male-inflicted dating violence. In contrast, we believe that it is very likely that the pattern of risk factors associated with dating violence by females may be quite different from the variables that predict male violence.

This study was guided by two related issues of interest. First, we wanted to determine the pattern of predictors for expressed dating violence, using as predictors variables that individually have been found to be associated with dating violence by other researchers. These include attitudes toward violence, sex-role attitudes, romantic jealousy, general levels of interpersonal aggression, verbal aggression, and verbal and physical aggression received from one's partner. Multiple regression analyses were considered to be the most appropriate for this purpose. Secondly, we expected different patterns of predictors to emerge for men and women, and hence, we conducted the regression analyses separately for each. As a preliminary step, we also performed a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) to determine any gender differences on the range of predictor variables.

In the sections that follow, we first review research documenting the prevalence of dating violence. This is followed by a review of existing research that has examined the association between dating violence and the various predictor variables being considered in this study.

Violence in dating relationships. Dating violence refers to "the perpetration or threat of an act of physical violence by at least one member of an unmarried dyad on the other within the context of the dating process" (Sugarman & Hotaling, 1989, p. 5). During the 1980's, empirical research yielded considerable data pointing to the widespread prevalence of dating violence.

Makepeace (1981) published the first study on physical aggression in dating relationships among college students. He asked students whether they knew of anyone who had experienced or had ever themselves experienced any of a variety of violent acts (including violent threats, pushing, slapping, punching, being assaulted with a weapon, and being struck with an object). …

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