Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

An Examination of Variables from a Social-Develomental Model to Explain Physical and Psychological Dating Violence

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

An Examination of Variables from a Social-Develomental Model to Explain Physical and Psychological Dating Violence

Article excerpt


This study examined individual difference variables derived from a social-developmental perspective to help explain physical and psychological violence in dating relationships. Participants completed measures of physical and psychological violence, self-esteem, personal power, peer relations, romantic love, codependency and dominance. Self- esteem, personal power and peer relations were variables from the social- developmental model that, with dominance, predicted dating violence. Males were more likely to report receiving violence, females more likely to report inflicting violence. Those participants reporting bidirectional physical violence, both receiving and inflicting physical violence, experienced the most frequent physical and psychological violence. The implications of these findings for understanding the origins and the context of dating violence are discussed.


Cette etude a examine les variables de differences individuelles decoulant d'une perspective de developpement social pour expliquer la violence physique et psychologique dans les relations de frequentation. Les participants ont complete les mesures de violence physique et psychologique, d'estime de soi, de pouvoir personnel, de relations avec les pairs, d'amour romantique, de co- dependance et de dominance. L'estime de soi, le pouvoir personnel et les relations avec les pairs etaient des variables qui provenaient des modeles de developpement social qui, avec la dominance, pouvaient prevoir la violence dans les frequentations. Les hommes etaient plus susceptibles de rapporter qu'ils avaient ete victimes de violence, et les femmes etaient plus susceptibles de rapporter qu'elles avaient inflige de la violence. Les participants qui ont rapporte une violence physique bidirectionnelle, subissant ou infligeant a la fois de la violence physique, ont subi le plus de violence physique et psychologique. L'importance de ces decouvertes dans la comprehension des origines et du contexte de la violence dans les frequentations fait l'objet d'une discussion.

Only in the past 15 years have investigations of violence in dating relationships appeared in the empirical literature. These studies have consistently found that more than one-fifth of the university dating population are physically abused by their dating partners (e.g., Foo & Margolin, 1995). Physical violence ranges from relatively minor abusive behaviours such as a push or a slap, to the most seriously abusive behaviours such as use of a gun or a knife. Psychological violence has been less often examined than physical violence for both dating and marital relationships (Stets, 1991). It has been suggested, however, that an even greater percentage of dating partners are psychologically abused than are physically abused (Kasian & Painter, 1992).

Most explanations for physical and psychological violence in dating relationships have been borrowed from the spousal abuse literature. One popular explanation refers to cultural and patriarchal norms that support abusive behaviours by men against their partners (Straus, 1979). Traditional sex-role attitudes have been found to be associated with males inflicting dating violence (Burke, Stets, & Pirog-Good, 1989), and there is evidence of peer support for male courtship aggression (DeKeseredy, 1990). This explanation fails, however, to reveal why most men socialized within a patriarchal society do not physically abuse their partners. Another popular explanation is the modeling of abusive behaviours witnessed within the family of origin (O'Leary, 1988), and there is some support for the intergenerational transmission hypothesis for physical (Tontodonato & Crew, 1992) and psychological dating violence (Follette & Alexander, 1992). Sugarman and Hotaling's (1989) review of the dating violence literature to that time, however, found an equal number of studies supporting and failing to support a relationship between dating violence and abuse in the family of origin. …

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