Measuring Violence with
the "Conflict Tactics Scales"
Chapter 1 gives the over-all definition of violence which guided this research. A more detailed discussion of the many subtle issues involved in a definition of violence is given elsewhere (Gelles and Straus, 1979). The method we used to gather the actual data on violence is known as the "Conflict Tactics Scales" (Straus, 1979). This technique was first developed at the University of New Hampshire in 1971 and was modified and used extensively over the next five years in numerous studies of family violence (see for example: Allen and Straus, 1979; Bulcroft and Straus, 1975; Steinmetz, 1977c; Straus, 1974a, 1976).
The Conflict Tactics Scales are designed to measure intrafamily conflict in the sense of the means used to resolve conflicts of interests.Three different tactics are measured: (1) Reasoning: the use of rational discussion and argument; (2) Verbal Aggression: the use of verbal and symbolic means of hurting—such as insults or threats to hurt the other; and, (3) Violence: the actual use of physical force.The Violence Scale contains eight items ( items k through r in Chart 28).