Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Timmons Fritz, Patti

Keywords

aggression; Attachment; Dating violence; Domestic violence; Emotion Regulation; Intimate partner violence

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

In the current study, relations between risk factors of dating violence perpetration and victimization were assessed at the couple-level. Attachment style and emotion regulation are among various factors that have been associated with dating violence and were recently included in an empirically-based model of bi-directional couple violence model (Langhinrichsen-Rohling, 2005/2010). This study was designed to assess the following research questions: (a) Does attachment style predict individuals’ abilities to regulate their emotions?; (b) Does attachment style predict individuals’ own, as well as their partners’, reports of dating violence?; (c) Does ability to regulate emotions predict individuals’ own, as well as their partners’, reports of dating violence?; (d) Is emotion regulation a mechanism through which attachment style relates to individuals’ own, as well as their partners’, reports of dating violence?; and (e) Are higher levels of dating violence more likely to occur among couples for whom both partners report emotion regulation difficulties? Participants (158 heterosexual dating couples; N = 316) completed online measures of attachment style, emotion regulation, and dating violence. Using the actor-partner interdependence model (Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006), results from multilevel models indicated that insecure attachment was associated with increased difficulty regulating emotions and difficulty regulating emotions was associated with dating violence perpetration and victimization. However, findings were mixed regarding the relation between attachment style and dating violence, and many models revealed significant interactions with participants’ sex. Although mediation hypotheses were not supported in this study, it is possible that the proposed mediation is moderated by sex. Finally, the hypothesis that couples would report increased dating violence if both member s had difficulties regulating their emotions was not supported. In fact, results suggested that sex-specific differences in emotion regulation abilities may actually increase risk. Future research should strive to conceptualize and evaluate separate models for men and women or collect data from samples large enough to conduct complex dyadic moderated-mediation analyses. Overall, both attachment style and emotion regulation appear to play important roles in predicting both perpetration and victimization and continued research is warranted.

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