Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Patti A. Timmons Fritz

Keywords

Psychology, Adaptive functioning, Computer-mediated communication, Coping, Intimate partner aggression, Online partner aggression, Psychological functioning

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

Despite the frequency with which individuals are currently communicating via forms of technology and the unique features of online communication (i.e., lack of verbal and nonverbal cues, ability to send messages with greater frequency, opportunity to make personal information public, etc.), few studies have considered individuals' perceptions of and experiences with online partner aggression victimization. Through quantitative and qualitative methods, the present research investigated university students' ( N = 349; 82.1% female) experiences of online partner aggression victimization occurring via email, instant messaging, and social networking sites and their perceptions of severity of the aggressive acts. In addition, information was collected about participants' dispositional coping strategies and their psychological and adaptive functioning as well as the indirect effects of coping on associated outcomes. Findings revealed that a large number (82.1%) of participants were victimized by online partner aggression at least once in the past year and that victimization occurred most frequently (71.8%) via instant messaging. Women were found to perceive all categories of online partner aggression as more severe than men. Path analysis indicated that maladaptive coping indirectly affected outcomes for individuals who had experienced online partner aggression such that this method of coping resulted in poorer psychological functioning, but better adaptive functioning. These findings provide support for the seriousness of online partner aggression and the importance of coping style with respect to outcomes. Limitations and clinical implications are discussed.

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