Academic journal article Violence and Victims

A Comparison of Three Different Scoring Methods for Self-Report Measures of Psychological Aggression in a Sample of College Females

Academic journal article Violence and Victims

A Comparison of Three Different Scoring Methods for Self-Report Measures of Psychological Aggression in a Sample of College Females

Article excerpt

Psychological aggression in females' dating relationships has received increased empirical attention in recent years. However, researchers have used numerous measures of psychological aggression and various scoring methods with these measures, making it difficult to compare across studies on psychological aggression. In addition, research has yet to examine whether different scoring methods for psychological aggression measures may affect the psychometric properties of these instruments. This study examined three self-report measures of psychological aggression within a sample of female college students (N = 108), including their psychometric properties when scored using frequency, sum, and variety scores. Results showed that the Revised Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS2) had variable internal consistency depending on the scoring method used and good validity; the Multidimensional Measure of Emotional Abuse (MMEA) and the Follingstad Psychological Aggression Scale (FPAS) both had good internal consistency and validity across scoring methods. Implications of these findings for the assessment of psychological aggression and future research are discussed.

Keywords: psychological aggression; dating violence; assessment; psychometrics; reliability

Psychological aggression is a devastating problem in college students' dating relationships. In recent years, there has been an increased research focus on psychological aggression (Follingstad, 2007), leading researchers to better understand this distinct type of aggression and the negative consequences associated with its presence. However, the measurement of psychological aggression has been difficult (Ro & Lawrence, 2007) because there are numerous measures of psychological aggression, various scoring methods for these measures, and a multitude of working definitions for this construct, making it unclear which measure(s) and scoring method(s) best captures this complex and multifaceted behavior. The purpose of this study was to examine three measures of psychological aggression within a sample of female college students in an attempt to determine the use of each measure and how they compare with each other across three different scoring methods.

PSYCHOLOGICAL AGGRESSION

Although there is no agreed upon definition of psychological aggression (see Follingstad, 2007 for review), it is generally recognized that psychologically aggressive behavior is intended to attack a victims' sense of self and emotional well-being. Murphy and Hoover (1999) state that psychological aggression "consists of coercive or aversive acts intended to produce emotional harm or threat of harm" (p. 40). Lawrence, Yoon, Langer, and Ro (2009) define psychological aggression as

behaviors such as ridiculing, verbal threats, isolating one's partner from family and friends, and attempting to control one's partner, and are intended to degrade one's partner and attack his or her self-worth by making him or her feel guilty, upset, or inadequate. (p. 20)

Psychological aggression occurs in approximately 80% of female college student dating relationships (see Shorey, Cornelius, & Bell, 2008 for review). Most psychological aggression is bidirectional, such that females are often both victims and perpetrators (Cornelius, Shorey, & Beebe, 2010). Female victims of psychological aggression are at heightened risk for negative health consequences, including symptoms of depression and anxiety (Harned, 2001; Katz & Arias, 1999; Shorey, Sherman, et al., 2011) and substance use (Shorey, Rhatigan, Fite, & Stuart, 2011; Straight, Harper, & Arias, 2003). Furthermore, the negative health effects of psychological aggression often remain after controlling for physical aggression victimization (O'Leary, 1999). Psychological aggression is one of the best predictors of physical aggression (Baker & Stith, 2008) and oftentimes precedes the onset of physical aggression (O'Leary, 1999). Thus, psychological aggression is an important area of research irrespective of the presence of physical aggression. …

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