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Abstract

The current study aims to analyze the impact of online and conventional couple quality on the explanation of dating aggression in Spain and Italy. 312 Italian and 430 Spanish university students participated in the study. Logistic regression analysis showed that conflicts increased the likelihood to be involved in psychological and physical aggression in both countries. Transgressive behavior increased the odds of being involved in physical and psychological aggression in Spain and in psychological aggression in Italy. Online intrusiveness influenced Spanish participants' involvement in physical and psychological dating aggression while online jealousy was the main predictor of both types of aggression in Italy. Results are discussed in terms of the insecurity that seems to characterize dating aggression in young adulthood.
47
Maltrattamento e abuso all’infanzia, Vol. 16, n. 3, novembre 2014, pp. 47-65
Online Intrusiveness, online jealousy and dating
aggression in young adults: a cross-national study
(Spain-Italy)
Virginia Sánchez, Noelia Muñoz*, Annalaura Nocentini,
Rosario Ortega-Ruiz, & Ersilia Menesini**
The current study aims to analyze the impact of online and conventional couple quality
on the explanation of dating aggression in Spain and Italy. 312 Italian and 430 Spanish
university students participated in the study. Logistic regression analysis showed that
conflicts increased the likelihood to be involved in psychological and physical aggres-
sion in both countries. Transgressive behavior increased the odds of being involved in
physical and psychological aggression in Spain and in psychological aggression in Ita-
ly. Online intrusiveness influenced Spanish participants’ involvement in physical and
psychological dating aggression while online jealousy was the main predictor of both
types of aggression in Italy. Results are discussed in terms of the insecurity that seems
to characterize dating aggression in young adulthood.
Key words: dating aggression, conflicts, online intrusiveness, online jealousy, young
adults.
Intrusività, gelosia e dating aggression online nei giovani adulti: uno studio cross-
culturale Spagna-Italia. Lo studio intende analizzare l’impatto della qualità della rela-
zione tra partner online e offline nella spiegazione del dating aggression in Spagna e in
Italia. 312 studenti universitari italiani e 430 spagnoli hanno partecipato allo studio.
Regressioni logistiche hanno mostrato come il conflitto aumenti la probabilità di essere
coinvolto nel dating aggression fisico e psicologico in entrambi i Paesi. Il comporta-
mento trasgressivo incrementa la probabilità di essere coinvolto nel dating aggression
fisico e psicologico in Spagna ma solo in quello psicologico in Italia. Infine
l’intrusività online influenza il dating aggression fisico e psicologico in Spagna mentre
in Italia è la gelosia online a predire entrambe le forme. I risultati enfatizzano il ruolo
dell’insicurezza nel predire la qualità delle relazioni sentimentali nella prima adultità.
Parole chiave: dating aggression, conflitti, instrusività online, gelosia online, giovane
adultità.
Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Seville,
Spain.
Granted by the Spanish Ministry of Education (FPU program-2013).
 Department of Psychology, University of Córdoba, Spain.
 Department of Psychology, University of Florence, Italy.
Indirizzare le richieste a: Virginia Sánchez, (virsan@us.es).
This research was financed by the Spanish Ministry of Education under the National
Program of Research and Innovation (I+D 2008-2011) Violencia y Cortejo Juvenil: los
riesgos del cortejo violento, la aggression sexual y el cyberbullying (PSI 2010 – 17246),
and under the National Program of Research and Innovation (I+D+i 2013-2016)
“Dat_Adolescence” (PSI2013-45118- R).
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48
1. Introduction
In Western cultures, the years of the transition to adulthood are char-
acterized by the progressive attainment of commitments related to life
plans: education, job and romantic relationships (Arnett, 2001; Shul-
man, Feldman, Blatt, Cohen, & Mahler, 2005). With regard to romantic
relationships, Shulman and Connolly (2013) have recently described
this pain of life as a transitional romantic stage defined by the task of
coordinating dyadic commitment together with individual life plans. By
negotiating the interdependence among the couple, young adults will
achieve long-terms romantic relationships. Studies conducted with ado-
lescent and young adults revealed that 90% of 18-25 year-old have had
a sentimental experience, but the diversity of these is very wide, from
those characterized by a relational instability (Garcia & Reiber, 2008) to
married couples. This diversity of romantic experiences implies that the
task is not easy, with cultural, social, family and personal factors affect-
ing this process. To this respect, the relational context of the dyad has
been considered a central factor to explain the positive or negative out-
comes of the romantic relationship (Capaldi & Kim, 2007), being more
important than the involvement in different romantic experiences (Col-
lins, Welsh, & Furman, 2009; Grover & Nangle, 2007). Studies have
showed that couples with high levels of positive quality (relationship
skills, commitment or intimacy) are involved in more stable, satisfied
and long lasting romantic relationships, while those involved in roman-
tic relationships characterized by conflicts, jealousy and intrusive be-
haviors show less satisfaction (Seiffge-Krenke & Connolly, 2010).
Moreover, longitudinal studies have described how the quality of ro-
mantic relationships in adolescence predicts the satisfaction and the
quality of romantic relationships in young adults (Madsen & Collins,
2011).
In short, the ability to negotiate and the acquisition of interpersonal
skills will promote good relationship quality and the attainment of inter-
dependence with the romantic partner. On the contrary, the presence of
conflicts, controlling behaviors and negative strategies for conflict reso-
lution should reflect poor outcomes, with the presence of aggressive be-
haviors in adolescents’ and young adults’ couples (Butzer & Kuiper,
2008; Connolly, Nocentini, Menesini, Pepler, Craig, & Williams, 2010;
Davila, Steinberg, Kachadourian, Cobb, & Fincham, 2004; La Greca &
Harrison, 2005; Marcus, 2012). To this respect, Nocentini, Pastorelli &
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Cyberdating quality and dating aggression
Maltrattamento e abuso all’infanzia, Vol. 16, n. 3, novembre 2014, p. 47-65
49
Menesini (2013) confirmed that poor levels of self-efficacy regarding
anger management predict high levels of conflicts within the couple,
and the occurrence of psychological and physical dating aggression in
both partners.
The presence of imbalance of power, controlling, and intrusive be-
haviors in the romantic relationships has also been associated with da-
ting aggression. Messinger and colleagues found that the use of escalat-
ing strategies (a combination of controlling and coercive strategies) was
related to dating aggression (perpetrated and received) in adolescents
and young females (Messinger, Rickert, Fry, Lessel, & Davidson,
2011), whilst Menesini and colleagues (Menesini, Nocentini, Ortega-
Rivera, Sánchez, & Ortega-Ruiz, 2011) concluded that the presence of
imbalance of power and conflicts were more likely in couples character-
ized by reciprocal aggression in comparison to couples not involved in
aggression. These results emphasize that behaviors and attitudes of con-
trol, intrusiveness and dominance over the romantic partner reinforce
similar responses from the other member of the dyad, contributing to an
escalation of conflict and aggression (Capaldi & Kim, 2007; Foran &
O’Leary, 2008).
To date, the impact of poor relationship quality on dating aggression
has not included the analysis of the interplay of the online context. Pre-
vious research has demonstrated that online and offline romantic rela-
tionships are specific but closely related (Caughlin & Sharabi, 2013), so
it can be expected that behaviors that people act in offline romantic rela-
tionships will be related to behaviors that they express online. Accord-
ing to this hypothesis, offline couple quality should be related with
online romantic relationship quality, and the influence of both contexts
would impact on dating aggression. Indeed, studies interested in the re-
lation between both measures of couple quality have showed that they
are linked. Ishii (2010) found that conflict management styles in online
relationships were related to the closeness and expectations for the fu-
ture of the relationship, with adults with no intentions for the future us-
ing more dominating, obliging, and avoidant strategies during argu-
ments with the partner.
One of the topics related to online behaviors among young and adult
couples that have received more attention in the last years has been cy-
berstalking (Menard & Pincus, 2012; Sheridan & Grant, 2007;
Strawhum, Adams, & Huss, 2013). These studies have been focused on
cyberstalking behaviors perpetrated and received by ex-partners, alt-
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50
hough Spitzberg and Cupach (2007) point out that these severe forms of
cyberstalking are not very frequent. The authors differentiate among se-
vere forms of cyberstalking tactics and obsessive relational intrusion, a
way of common or moderate cyberstalking. These tactics are considered
the most frequent forms of stalking that usually occur within romantic
relationships, and not necessarily causing fear to the victim. Obsessive
relational intrusion has been related directly with online jealousy and
control, as a “distorted version of courtship and romantic relationships”
(Spitzber & Cupach, p. 79), mainly oriented to maintain the intimacy
and proximity with the partner after a discussion, a breakup, or looking
for reconciliation. When it occurs, in the form of persistent and unwant-
ed email messages, SMS, or instant messages, the response of the other
partner has an important role in the perpetuation of the behavior, con-
tributing to maintain this specific communication strategy for conflict
resolution between partners (Nguyen, Spitzberg, & Lee, 2012). On the
same line, Elphinston and Noller (2011) showed that intrusive behavior
over the partner in social networks was linked to relationship dissatis-
faction and jealousy, reflecting a relational romantic dynamic laden with
insecurities and fears (Lavy, Mikulincer, & Shaver, 2010). In relation to
offline dating aggression, studies have considered the relation among
cyberstalking behaviors received or perpetrated and physical or psycho-
logical dating aggression in young adult couples, and among online
jealousy and psychological dating aggression, especially in females
(Strawhun, Adams, & Huss, 2013). No studies have analyzed the rela-
tion among intrusiveness and dating aggression in current relationships.
Starting from this literature, the present study will analyze the impact
of online quality couple (in terms of intrusiveness and online jealousy)
and conventional quality couple (in terms of conflicts, transgressive be-
havior, and imbalance of power) on physical and psychological dating
aggression in two countries, Spain and Italy. Although the studies on
dating aggression have been extended to Italy and Spain in the last years
(Menesini & Nocentini, 2008; Muñoz-Rivas, Graña, O’Leary, & Gonzá-
lez, 2007; Viejo, Sánchez, & Ortega, 2014; Nocentini, Pastorelli, &
Menesini, 2013), most research still comes from USA and Canada.
Moreover, cross-cultural research is still scarce, and mainly focused on
adolescents (see Menesini et al., 2011 for a comparison among Spain
and Italy; or Connolly et al., 2010 for a comparison among Italy and
Canada). Spain and Italy are countries with very similar cultural and so-
cial characteristics, but results of previous studies confirmed that both
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Cyberdating quality and dating aggression
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51
countries present different levels of physical aggression. Although no
comparative studies have been conducted, results suggest that Spanish
adolescents are more involved in physical aggression than Italian (Vie-
jo, in press; Menesini & Nocentini, 2008) while no differences appear
for psychological forms of violence. For young adults, the studies are
still scarce and no consistent results have been presented. Studies devel-
oped in Spain, suggested that there is a decreasing trend from late ado-
lescence to the first years of adulthood (Corral, 2009; Fernández-
González, O’Leary, & Muñoz-Rivas, 2014), while in Italy prevalence
rates seem to indicate a stabilization of physical aggression in university
students (Romito & Grassi, 2007). According to literature, we expect to
find higher levels of physical dating aggression in Italian young adults
in comparison to Spanish ones. Regarding psychological aggression, we
expect to find similar rates in adolescents’ samples both in Spain and
Italy.
In relation to the impact of conventional and online quality couple in
dating aggression, results have indicated the central role of conflicts and
imbalance of power in the explanation of dating aggression across cul-
tures (Menesini et al., 2011). We do not know studies regarding intru-
siveness and online jealousy either in Spain or in Italy. Both countries
are characterized for being lower users of ICT, with Italy showing lower
levels than Spain in relation to children and adolescents users (EU-Kids
Online, 2013). A recent national report from Italy stated that children
and young adults of 6 to 25 years used internet and ICT below the aver-
age of the European countries (Istat, 2013). Similar levels have also
been found in Spain (INE, 2014). We hypothesize that the conflicts will
continue to impact on dating aggression, including also the influence on
online quality of the relationship. Considering the novelty of this study
and the absence of previous research on this topic, we do not have a
specific hypothesis for it.
2. Method
2.1 Sample
793 university students with current romantic relationships partici-
pated in the study (469 from Seville, Southern Spain; 324 from Flor-
ence, Central Italy). Participants were recruited from the faculties of
Psychology, Law, Sciences and Engineering, following Ferrer and col-
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52
leagues’ (Ferrer, Bosh, Ramis, & Navarro, 2006) considerations regard-
ing the impact of the formative curriculum in the perception and sensiti-
zation with dating aggression among university students. The distribu-
tion of students per faculty was representative of the total university
sample in each city. In both cases, there were more girls than boys
(71.6% and 66% in Italy and Spain, respectively). Sample characteris-
tics and descriptive results of the measures are shown on Table 1.
Table 1 - Sample descriptive statistics
Italy Spain Diff.
Sex Male 92(28.4%) 159(34%) ns
Female 232 (71.6%) 308(66%)
Age (M; SD) 21.14(1.85) 21.90(2.33) t (775.54)=5.113***
d=.36
Father Educa-
tion Illiterate 2 (0.7%) 17 (3.8%) X2(3)=175.024***
Elementary School 18 (5.9%) 196 (43.7%)
Middle School 76 (24.8%) 119 (26.5%)
Universitary degree 210 (68.6%) 117 (26.1%) X2(3)=236.894***
Mother Educa-
tion Illiterate 1 (0.3%) 20 (4.4%)
Elementary School 12 (3.9%) 205 (44.7%)
Middle School 75 (24.1%) 137 (29.8%)
Universitary degree 223 (71.7%) 97 (21.1%)
Mean relation-
ship length
(M; SD)
126.80 (98.61) 137.91
(108.24) ns
Conventional
Quality of
romantic rela-
tionship (M;
SD)
Conflict 2.04 (.70) 2.28 (.74) t(780)=4.436***
d=.33
Imbalance of power 1.72 (.78) 1.55 (.70) t(777)=3.022***
d=.23
Transgressive Behav-
iour 1.32 (.45) 1.43 (.57) t(760.93)=3.146***
d=.22
Online Quality
of romantic
relationship
(M; SD for
Jealousy)
Online Jealousy 1.35 (1.01) 1.14 (.89) t(604.53)=2.950***
d=.33
Intrusiveness NI 158 (51.5%) 209 (45.8%) Ns
I 149 (48.5%) 247 (54.2%)
Dating aggres-
sion Psychological NI 54 (16.8%) 70 (15%) ns
I 268 (83.2%) 396 (85%)
Physical NI 196 (60.9%) 361 (78.3%) X2(1)=28.708***
I 126 (39.1%) 100 (21.7%)
Note: NI = Not involvement; I=Involvement; d:.30 (small) .50(medium) .80 (large); **p .
001
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Cyberdating quality and dating aggression
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53
2.2 Measures
Conventional Quality of dating relationships. Dating relationship
quality was measured by the Network Relationships Inventory (NRI;
Furman & Buhrmester, 1992). This measure comprises 8 items, which
assess two subscales on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from never true to
always true: (1) six items were related to conflict in the dyad (i.e., I get
upset with my boy/girlfriend); Italy Į = .82; Spain Į = .89; (2) two items
were related to imbalance of power in the dyad (i.e., How often does
someone tend to be bossy in this relationship?); Italy Į = .64; Spain Į
=.64. Transgressive behavior in the dyad was measured by an adapta-
tion of four items on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from never true to
always true (Fuligni & Eccles, 1993) (i.e., how often do you break the
rules to please your partner?) Italy Į = .72; Spain Į = .73. Previous stud-
ies using the same measures showed cross-cultural invariance (Menesini
et al., 2011).
Online quality of dating relationship. Online quality of dating rela-
tionship was measured using two subscales of Cyberdating_Q (CBD;
Sánchez, Muñoz & Ortega-Ruiz, in press; Sánchez, Muñoz, & Ortega-
Ruiz, 2014). This measure comprised 10 items, which assess two sub-
scales on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from never true to always true;
(1) six items focused on online jealousy, Italy Į = .83; Spain Į = .80
(i.e., I feel jealous if my partner posts provocative photos on her/his so-
cial network profile); and (2) four items were related to intrusiveness
(Italy Į =.72; Spain Į = .74). According to Spitzberg & Cupach (2003),
intrusiveness has been conceptualized as a specific form of cyberstalk-
ing characterized by invasive, unwanted and, undesirable behavior that
violate physical or symbolic privacy of the partner. In this study, we
will consider intrusiveness as a response to a breakup within the rela-
tionship (i.e., when I’m angry and my partner does not answer me I
leave many messages on her/his private chat).
Dating Aggression. Dating Aggression was assessed using two
scales measuring psychological and physical aggression. Following the
definition by Straus (1979) and Capaldi & Crosby (1997), we decided to
include verbal aggression, offense, threatening and control in the cate-
gory of psychological aggression. The first scale comprised nine items
for perpetrated acts, derived from the Physical Violence Scale of Con-
flict Tactics Scale-2 (Nocentini, Menesini, Pastorelli, Connolly, Pepler,
& Craig, 2011; Straus, 1979; Viejo, Sánchez, & Ortega, 2014), i.e.,
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54
pushing, grabbing or shoving, slapping, kicking, or biting (Italy Į = .83;
Spain Į = .91). The second scale was derived from the Relational Ag-
gression Scale (Crick, 1995) and consisted of six items focused on psy-
chological aggression (i.e., spreading rumors or telling mean lies to
make one’s boy/girlfriend unpopular; telling one’s boy/girlfriend she/he
won’t be liked anymore unless she/he does what she/he is being told to
do; teasing), (Italy Į = .75; Spain Į = .68). The items of the two scales
were rated on a 5- point Likert scale, ranging from never true to always
true. This measure has been previously validated in Italy (Nocentini et
al., 2011) and Spain (Viejo et al., 2014) showing scalar invariance
across countries (Menesini et al., 2011).
2.3 Plan of analyses
We conducted a binomial logistic regression across country, consid-
ering two profiles of involvement in aggressive behaviors – psychologi-
cal or physical – as dependent variables; and gender and quality of ro-
mantic relationships – conventional and online – as independent varia-
bles. All these analyses were conducted using SPSS 20. The logistic re-
gression was evaluated by R2 Nagerlkerke, and Percentage of Cases
Correctly Classified (PCCC).
3. Results
3.1 Descriptive results
Measures of physical and psychological dating aggression were re-
coded in two points variables (Not involved versus Involved). Partici-
pants were considered as involved in physical or psychological dating
aggression if they reported to perpetrate at least one of the items of the
physical or psychological aggression scales.
As shown in Table 1, no significant differences among countries
were found for psychological aggression. For physical aggression, re-
sults showed that Italian university students were significantly more in-
volved than Spanish ones.
In relation to conventional and online quality of the romantic rela-
tionships, results showed that Italian young adults presented higher lev-
els of imbalance of power and online jealousy than Spanish ones. In
contrast, Spanish participants presented higher level of conflicts and
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Cyberdating quality and dating aggression
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55
transgressive behaviors than Italians. No statistical differences were
found for intrusiveness.
No gender differences were found within countries for Psychological
(Spain, Ȥ2 psychological(1) = 1.103; p = .339; Italy, Ȥ2psychological(1)
=.222; p = .742), nor for physical aggression (Spain, Ȥ2physical(1) =
.318; p = .632; Italy, Ȥ2physical (1) = 1.597; p = .209).
In relation to the quality of romantic relationships, significant differ-
ences were found for transgressive behavior (Spain t(460) = 5.838, p <.
001; Italy t(314) = 3.628, p < .001) and imbalance of power (Spain t(460) =
3.430, p < .001; Italy t(313) = 2.749, p < .001). Boys presented higher
levels of transgressive behavior and imbalance of power than girls both
in Spain and Italy. There was no significant effect of gender on conflicts
(Spain t(460) = -1.651, p = .099; Italy t(316) = .430; p = .668), online jeal-
ousy (Spain t(457) = -1.310, p = .191; Italy t(307) = -1.31, p = .191) and in-
trusiveness (Spain, Ȥ2intrusiveness(1) = .178; p = .692; Italy,
Ȥ2intrusiveness(1) = .196; p = .704).
3.2 Modeling the association between conventional and online
quality of romantic relationships, and physical and psychologi-
cal dating aggression
Binomial logistic regressions were run in order to analyze the impact
of online and conventional negative quality within the romantic couple
(conflict, imbalance of power, transgressive behavior, intrusiveness and
online jealousy) as predictors of being involved in psychological and
physical aggression.
Previous analysis confirmed significant associations among predic-
tors and the involvement in both forms of aggression, so all the predic-
tors were included in the model. Given the relevant interplay of gender
and country in the results, regressions were run separately by country,
and sex was controlled including this variable in a first step. A two-step
model was run with main effects in the first step, and interaction effects
of quality with gender in the second step. Since no interaction effects
were found, we deleted it from the final model. Table 2 shows the re-
gression coefficients and the odds ratio for the final model in both coun-
tries.
The final models showed significant associations between conven-
tional and online negative quality and being involved in psychological
and physical aggression in boys and girls. Overall, in Spain, involve-
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56
ment in psychological and physical dating aggression was predicted by
conflicts, transgressive behavior and intrusiveness. In Italy, involvement
in both aggressive behaviors was predicted by conflicts and online jeal-
ousy, and psychological dating aggression by transgressive behavior. In
both countries imbalance of power was excluded from the final model.
Table 2 - Betas and standard errors resulting from the logistical regression
analysis in both samples, Spain and Italy
Spain Italy
Psychologi-
cal aggres-
siona
Physical
aggressionb Psychologi-
cal aggres-
sionc
Physical
aggressiond
Romantic Re-
lationship
Quality
Conflict 1.344(.265)
OR =
3.834***
.984(.183)
OR=
2.676***
1.146(.333)
OR =
3.146***
.724(.192)
OR =
2.062***
Transgres-
sive beha-
viours
1.185(.441)
OR =
3.272**
.476(.214)
OR =
1.609*
1.666(.749)
OR =
5.288*
ns.
Romantic Re-
lationship
Quality Onli-
ne
Intrusive-
ness -.881 (.301)
OR =
.414**
-1.074(.288)
OR =
.342***
ns. ns.
Online Jea-
lousy ns. ns. .692(.218)
OR =
1.998***
.270(.127)
OR =
1.311*
Note: *p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001.
aR2 = .24; % PCCC = 86.5%; bR2 = .25; X% PCCC = 80.4%; cR2 = .23; % PCCC = 83%; dR2 =
.14; % PCCC = 66.9%
Specifically, in Spain, a unit of change in conflict and in transgres-
sive behavior increases the odds of being involved in psychological ag-
gression rather than not being involved by about 3.8 and 3.3 times, re-
spectively; for physical aggression, conflicts and transgressive behav-
iors increase the odds of being involved rather than not being involved
by about 2.7 and 1.6 times, respectively. Likewise, to be involved in in-
trusive behaviors increases the odds of being involved in psychological
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Cyberdating quality and dating aggression
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57
aggression rather than not being involved by about 0.4 times; and by
about 0.3 times in physical aggression.
In Italy, a unit of change in conflict and in transgressive behavior in-
creases the odds of being involved in psychological aggression rather
than not being involved by about 3.1 and 5.2 times, respectively; in the
case of physical aggression, conflict increases the odds of being in-
volved by about 2.1 times in comparison to not involved participants.
Finally, a unit of change in online jealousy increases the odds of being
involved in psychological aggression rather than not being involved by
about 2 times, and 1.3 times with regard to the involvement in physical
aggression in comparison to not involved participants.
4. Conclusions
Studies on dating aggression in young adults are still scarce in Eu-
rope, and particularly in Italy and Spain. This work represents a first at-
tempt to explore the predictors of physical and psychological dating ag-
gression related to online and conventional quality couples of young
adults. In a digital world, where ICTs are changing the way people so-
cialize, the analysis of how online behaviors in romantic relationships
impact face to face contacts, needs to be performed in order to under-
stand more accurately the dynamics of romantic relationships. This is
especially true in different cultures, where the meanings people attribute
to online and offline behaviors within romantic relationships can be in-
terpreted differently (Seiffge-Krenke, 2008).
Results have showed that Italian university students present higher
levels of physical aggression than Spanish, while no differences were
found for psychological aggression. For Spain, results on physical da-
ting aggression are similar to those of Corral (2009) and Fernández-
González and colleagues (2014). Both papers showed a pattern of phys-
ical dating aggression decreasing with age. The authors explained this
trend as a consequence of a developmental pattern where youngsters
mature in terms of personality, but also in terms of social and romantic
relationships (Moffit, 2006). In contrast, results from Italy are not con-
clusive. Nocentini, Menesini & Pastorelli (2010) found a significant lin-
ear decrease of physical aggression from 16 to 18 years, while Romito
& Grassi (2007) found similar rates of physical aggression in compari-
son to adolescent years, as we found in this study. Cohort effects and
different design methods (transversal and longitudinal) could influence
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Maltrattamento e abuso all’infanzia, Vol. 16, n. 3, novembre 2014, pp. 47-65
58
the results, indicating that studies on physical dating aggression in Italy
need further assessments. As expected, no differences were found be-
tween Italy and Spain in relation to psychological dating aggression.
More than 80% of university students affirmed to perpetrate one or
more of these behaviors against their partners, stressing the normative
use of these behaviors among young couples (Foshee et al., 2009). Since
very scarce evidence exists regarding the prevalence of psychological
aggression in young adults, studies to come should clarify this trend in
the results and cultural correlated factors.
Logistic regressions showed that conflicts within the couple in-
creased the probability of being involved in psychological and physical
aggression in both countries. These results are consistent with previous
cross-cultural studies (Menesini et al., 2011) and reflect the conflictual
and contextual nature of dating aggression also in the first years of
adulthood. In contrast, imbalance of power did not show any effect on
dating aggression, reflecting an important level of symmetry in power
between the two partners. Previous studies on dating aggression in ado-
lescence have repeatedly showed that the low levels of imbalance of
power are related to the fact that dating aggression is mainly reciprocal
or mutual (Archer, 2000; Johnson, 1995; Menesini et al., 2011), where
males and females present the same levels of aggression and victimiza-
tion. This mutual violence regards couples where both members fight
for the control of the relationship, and there is not a clearly dominating
partner. Higher levels of reciprocal violence in comparison to pure or
unidirectional roles have also been presented in recent studies on dating
aggression in young adults (Fernández-Gonzáles et al., 2014; Marcus,
2012). Even if we have not controlled reciprocal involvement in this
study, results seem to point to this direction. Futures studies could con-
firm this result.
Transgressive behavior has been described as an important predictor
of psychological and physical aggression in Spain, and of psychological
aggression in Italy. This result is very interesting because it could reflect
a certain kind of reactivity in dating aggression among young adults.
Transgressive behavior can be defined as a feeling of being under the
pressure of the partner (Fuligni & Eccles, 1993) with people affirming
to have difficulties to negotiate their needs with their partners’ needs.
Together with conflicts and with the absence of imbalance of power, the
results should indicate that the perception of being submitted or domi-
nated by the partner will deal on conflicts and, finally, on dating aggres-
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Cyberdating quality and dating aggression
Maltrattamento e abuso all’infanzia, Vol. 16, n. 3, novembre 2014, p. 47-65
59
sion (Werkele & Wolfe, 1999), resulting in a more insecure and impul-
sive aggression. The inclusion of emotional variables in futures studies,
as attachment style, emotion regulation and self-esteem, could help to
test this hypothesis.
The predictor effect of online quality relationships on physical and
psychological aggression in young adults has underlined the importance
of this context in young romantic couples. Intrusiveness was the main
online predictor of physical and psychological aggression in Spain
while online jealousy was the main factor in Italy. It is difficult to un-
derstand why these clear differences appeared in the two countries since
no previous study exists on this topic. Overall, the profile continues to
delineate the insecurity as the main characteristic of the romantic cou-
ples in both countries, as previous studies about cyberstalking, insecure
attachment and online jealousy have shown (see Fox & Garber, 2014;
Nitzburg & Farber, 2013; Strawhun, Adams, & Huss, 2013). Starting
from this pattern of insecurity, Spanish participants seem to externalize
more their insecurity, invading the online privacy of their partners fol-
lowing an argument or a break-up. These online obsessive behaviors
could increase the levels of conflicts and lead to psychological and
physical aggression. Italian young adults, in contrast, present a more in-
ternalized profile of online insecurity, often displayed with feelings of
jealousy, mistrustfulness and fear about their partners’ online behavior.
These feelings could contribute to an escalation of conflicts and discus-
sions that would lead, consequently, to psychological and physical ag-
gression. Future studies, including other measures, as rumination and
other externalized behaviors together with cultural factors, could clarify
these two different profiles found in both countries.
Even if the impact of conventional and online quality has been
demonstrated, the impact of the different predictors was different. Con-
ventional quality presented more predictive power than online quality in
both countries, Spain and Italy. These results would suggest that online
interactions have not the same relevance as face to face interactions in
romantic relationships. Cauglin & Sharabi (2013) have concluded with a
similar consideration. In their study, young adults affirmed that face to
face communication was more important than online interactions. When
the latter was used as an instrument or resource for the former, the lev-
els of satisfaction and intimacy with the partner increased. To this re-
spect, it could be interesting to test if online interaction could have the
same impact in adolescents’ couples or in couples at an early stage of
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60
the relationship. Future studies can test if the stability of the romantic
relationship together with the age of the participant could vary in rela-
tion to the weight of the online and conventional predictors of dating
aggression.
This study has been a first attempt to explore the impact of online in-
teraction on dating aggression in young adults. Since the research in this
area is still scarce, this study represents one of the first contributions
that leaves many open questions on the relation among online and off-
line context in the explanation of dating aggression. The cross-cultural
design has allowed to find similar trends in both countries, but also cul-
tural differences that need to be explored deeply in future studies. The
study presents, also, limitations that must be addressed. First of all, the
measures of online quality were partial and very specific. Since the top-
ic of online quality is emergent, researchers ought to make efforts to de-
sign more comprehensive measures of online quality in romantic rela-
tionships. A second limitation is that we have not included positive
measures of conventional and online quality. The analyses would pro-
vide keys for the design of prevention programs, not only oriented to
minimize the negative aspects of the couples but also maximizing the
positive ones. Finally, another limitation is that we have not controlled
the time that participants used ICT and internet together with other per-
sonal measures already mentioned and other forms of electronic aggres-
sion. Their inclusion in futures studies would illuminate the interplay of
personal and relational factors in online contexts and their relation to
dating aggression.
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Pervenuto luglio 2014
Accettato settembre 2014
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... More numerous studies have analyzed the relation between negative online relationship dynamics and different indicators of romantic relationship quality in young adults. For instance, online jealousy -understood as an emotional reaction prompted by visualizing online relationship content -and concerns and suspicions about a partner's interest in someone else (Utz & Beukeboom, 2011) have been associated with low levels of relationship satisfaction (Elphinston & Noller, 2011), and predict involvement in psychological (Strawhun, Adams, & Huss, 2013) and physical abuse (Sánchez, Muñoz, Nocentini, Ortega-Ruiz, & Menesini, 2014). On the other hand, research on online intrusive behavior, which is understood as repeated, obsessive attempts to initiate contact and communicate with a partner after a break-up or fight, has revealed that people who exhibit these behaviors in online mode do so offline too (Spitzberg & Hoobler, 2002;Strawhun et al., 2013), and has linked it to low relationship quality (Lavy, Mikulincer, Shaver, & Gillath, 2009) as well as intimate partner abuse (Sánchez et al., 2014;Strawhun et al., 2013). ...
... For instance, online jealousy -understood as an emotional reaction prompted by visualizing online relationship content -and concerns and suspicions about a partner's interest in someone else (Utz & Beukeboom, 2011) have been associated with low levels of relationship satisfaction (Elphinston & Noller, 2011), and predict involvement in psychological (Strawhun, Adams, & Huss, 2013) and physical abuse (Sánchez, Muñoz, Nocentini, Ortega-Ruiz, & Menesini, 2014). On the other hand, research on online intrusive behavior, which is understood as repeated, obsessive attempts to initiate contact and communicate with a partner after a break-up or fight, has revealed that people who exhibit these behaviors in online mode do so offline too (Spitzberg & Hoobler, 2002;Strawhun et al., 2013), and has linked it to low relationship quality (Lavy, Mikulincer, Shaver, & Gillath, 2009) as well as intimate partner abuse (Sánchez et al., 2014;Strawhun et al., 2013). Regarding online monitoring or control, that is, surveillance and tracking of the partner's online activity (Tokunaga, 2011), results have been inconclusive. ...
... In Spain, research on this subject remains nascent. Many studies have analyzed cyberbullying in young couples (Durán-Segura & Martínez-Pecino, 2015) in relation to offline violence (Sánchez et al., 2014), but we know of no study that analyzed how online couple quality contributes to relationship satisfaction in a college population. In this study, we understand relationship satisfaction as an indicator of relationship quality, and as characterized by intimacy, communication, and a desire to stay in the relationship (Madsen & Collins, 2011). ...
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Recent studies suggest that the online and offline behaviors young people display in romantic relationships are closely related. However, the differential effects of the dimensions of couple quality in the online context have not yet been explored in depth. The aim of this study was to explore online couple quality in young-adult relationships, and its association with romantic relationship satisfaction, also looking at effects of gender, age, and length of the relationship. 431 university students currently in a romantic relationship (68.2% females; mean age = 21.57) participated in this study. They completed different self-report measures to tap the online quality of their romantic relationships (online intimacy, control, jealousy, intrusiveness, cyberdating practices, and communication strategies) and level of satisfaction with those relationships. Results showed that participants more often reported online intimacy ( Mmen = 2.49; Mwomen = 2.38) than the negative scales of online quality (mean ranged from .43 to 1.50), and all the online quality scales decreased with age (correlations ranged from –.12 to –.30) and relationship length (correlations ranged from –.02 to –.20). Linear regression analyses indicated that online intimacy ( b = .32, p = .001) and intrusiveness ( b = .11, p = .035) were positively related to relationship satisfaction, while cyberdating practices ( b = –.20, p = .001) and communication strategies ( b = –.34, p = .001) were negatively correlated with relationship satisfaction. Moreover, gender and relationship length moderated some of these associations. Results indicate that while online quality and relationship satisfaction are related, the impact of different online quality dimensions on relationship satisfaction differs depending on a participant’s sex, age, and relationship length.
... More numerous studies have analyzed the relation between negative online relationship dynamics and different indicators of romantic relationship quality in young adults. For instance, online jealousy-understood as an emotional reaction prompted by visualizing online relationship content-and concerns and suspicions about a partner's interest in someone else ( Utz & Beukeboom, 2011) have been associated with low levels of relationship satisfaction ( Elphinston & Noller, 2011), and predict involvement in psychological ( Strawhun, Adams, & Huss, 2013) and physical abuse ( Sánchez, Muñoz, Nocentini, Ortega-Ruiz, & Menesini, 2014). On the other hand, research on online intrusive behavior, which is understood as repeated, obsessive attempts to initiate contact and communicate with a partner after a break-up or fight, has revealed that people who exhibit these behaviors in online mode do so offline too ( Spitzberg & Hoobler, 2002;Strawhun et al., 2013), and has linked it to low relationship quality ( Lavy, Mikulincer, Shaver, & Gillath, 2009) as well as intimate partner abuse ( Sánchez et al., 2014;Strawhun et al., 2013). ...
... For instance, online jealousy-understood as an emotional reaction prompted by visualizing online relationship content-and concerns and suspicions about a partner's interest in someone else ( Utz & Beukeboom, 2011) have been associated with low levels of relationship satisfaction ( Elphinston & Noller, 2011), and predict involvement in psychological ( Strawhun, Adams, & Huss, 2013) and physical abuse ( Sánchez, Muñoz, Nocentini, Ortega-Ruiz, & Menesini, 2014). On the other hand, research on online intrusive behavior, which is understood as repeated, obsessive attempts to initiate contact and communicate with a partner after a break-up or fight, has revealed that people who exhibit these behaviors in online mode do so offline too ( Spitzberg & Hoobler, 2002;Strawhun et al., 2013), and has linked it to low relationship quality ( Lavy, Mikulincer, Shaver, & Gillath, 2009) as well as intimate partner abuse ( Sánchez et al., 2014;Strawhun et al., 2013). Regarding online monitoring or control, that is, surveillance and tracking of the partner's online activity ( Tokunaga, 2011), results have been inconclusive. ...
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El presente estudio supone una primera aproximación descriptiva al estudio de la calidad de las relaciones sentimentales adolescentes y a la presencia de comportamientos violentos en estas primeras relaciones. Se entrevistó a 446 adolescentes de Educación Secundaria Obligatoria y Bachillerato (47.50% chicos, 52.50% chicas, edad media 16.08 años) con relación a la satisfacción con sus relaciones de pareja, sus expectativas, grado de comunicación, presencia de conflictos, poder, comportamiento transgresivo y violencia. Los resultados descriptivos han mostrado que las relaciones de pareja durante la adolescencia son muy importantes para los chicos y chicas dado que el 90% de éstos afirmaron haber tenido alguna experiencia sentimental. Los adolescentes afirmaron estar muy satisfechos con sus relaciones sentimentales, siendo las chicas y los participantes de mayor edad los que más satisfacción y expectativas mostraron. Con relación a los problemas de violencia, los resultados han mostrado una implicación alta, aunque ocasional, de chicos y chicas con independencia de la edad y del comportamiento analizado: agresión y victimización.
... Furthermore, this article adds to the prior studies that have been performed on non-American samples (e.g. German; Degen and Kleeberg-Niepage, 2021;German and Danish;Degen and Kleeberg-Niepage, 2022;Spain and Spain-Italy;Sánchez et al., 2014Sánchez et al., , 2017 and enables the further validation of the results obtained in prior studies that utilized U.S. Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) samples to counteract this U.S.-centric sampling bias in psychological research recently recognized by researchers (e.g. Cheon et al., 2020). ...
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... In addition, findings have also indicated that jealousy is related to the quality of the relationship (Barelds & Barelds-Dijkstra, 2007). Align with this, jealousy is associated with a greater number of conflicts (Harris & Darby, 2010;Perles, San Mart ın, & Canto, 2016;Perles, San Mart ın, Canto, & Moreno, 2011), and aggressions (Ashton, Graham-Kevan, & Archer, 2008;Harris & Darby, 2010;S anchez, Muñoz, Nocentini, Ortega-Ru ız, & Menesini, 2014). ...
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Nowadays, control over one's partner is easily maintained through social networks, such as Facebook. The aim of this study was to analyze the factors associated with Facebook-jealousy. We examined a total sample of 1144 individuals distributed as follows: data from Spain (n = 393), Colombia (n = 600), and Ecuador (n = 151 individuals), with ages ranging from 14 to 42 years old. All participants held nationality from one of the respective countries, were currently or had been enrolled in a relationship, and both the participant and his/her/their partner also had a Facebook account. Participants completed an online survey with self-reported measures to evaluate: self-esteem, partner conflicts and their strategies to cope with them, romantic jealousy, and Facebook jealousy. Results show that the propensity to experience jealousy in the relationship and low self-esteem are related with more Facebook jealousy across the three countries. For both, Spain and Colombia, strategies to cope with partner conflicts are also associated with Facebook jealousy, in particular lower levels of constructive strategies and higher dominance are associated with greater Facebook jealousy. In short, Facebook jealousy represents another way to manifest jealousy that is influenced by both personal and relationship variables.
... The fact that this dimension emerged from the qualitative study, and was subsequently confirmed in the quantitative study, demonstrates the importance of these relational practices in dating relationships well into adolescence. The relevance of this finding is justified by the lack of studies on this topic in Spain, especially at this developmental stage, and because previous studies on stalking have linked it directly to control and couple violence among young adults (Logan, 2010;Sánchez, Muñoz, Nocentini, Ortega-Ruiz, & Menesini, 2014). Researchers may want to pursue further whether this relationship is already present in adolescence. ...
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