An exploratory study of female partner aggression: The role of relationship dynamics

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine differences between female and male aggression; to examine the effect various aggression, dominance, and couple variables have on female physical aggression; to identify which combination of these variables bests explains female aggression in a sample of couples seeking therapy for domestic violence/anger management; and to identify the influence of male physical aggression on the predictor variables. Overall, based on women's reports, 74.6% (n=63) of the women and 86.2% (n=74) of the men in this sample used at least one act of physical aggression against their partner in the past year. With the exception of slapping and using a knife or gun against partner, men perpetrated individual acts of physical aggression significantly more than did women. Aggression, dominance, and couple variables were found to be significantly correlated with and predictive of female physical aggression. Overall, this study found that 55% of the variance in women's use of physical aggression was predicted by women's psychological aggression, husband demand/wife withdrawal communication pattern, male and female jealousy, and women's disparagement of their partners. Male physical aggression only added 3% of the variance when added to this combination of variables. Since women's physical aggression is explained by various relationship dynamics the theory that women are aggressive only in self-defense is questioned.

relationship dynamics, female aggression