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Testing predictions from the male control theory of men’s partner violence

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to test predictions from the male control theory of intimate partner violence (IPV) and Johnson’s (1995) reported on their use of physical aggression and controlling behavior, to partners and to same‐sex non‐intimates. Contrary to the male control theory, women were found to be more physically aggressive to their partners than men were, and the reverse pattern was found for aggression to same‐sex non‐intimates. Furthermore, there were no substantial sex differences in controlling behavior, which significantly predicted physical aggression in both sexes. IPV was found to be associated with physical aggression to same‐sex nonintimates, thereby demonstrating a link with aggression outside the family. Using Johnson’s typology, women were more likely than men to be classed as “intimate terrorists,” which was counter to earlier findings. Overall, these results do not support the male control theory of IPV. Instead, they fit the view that IPV does not have a special etiology, and is better studied within the context of other forms of aggression.
Testing predictions from the male
control theory of men’s partner
violence
Dr Elizabeth A. Bates
Elizabeth.Bates@cumbria.ac.uk
Overview
To give a brief overview of the background
literature
To present the results of a study that was
part of my PhD with a large student
sample (N = 1104)
To discuss the implications and future
directions
Intimate Partner Violence
Research
IPV Stereotypical view –
dominant male perpetrator
Typologies – to influence
treatment
Male Victims – Steinmetz
“Battered Husband
Syndrome”
Sex Differences in Aggression
Differing pattern of sex differences (e.g. Archer,
2000; Archer, 2004)
Feminists (e.g. Dobash & Dobash, 1979) believe
these two types of aggression are etiologically
different – a “gender perspective”
Others (e.g. Felson, 2002, 2006) take the
“violence perspective”.
Dual Belief Theory
Feminist Perspective
IPV is perpetrated by men
driven by patriarchal values and
control
Patriarchal society tolerates this
Women’s aggression is
expressive and motivated mainly
by self-defence.
IPV male perpetrators are
different from other offenders
Similar to evolutionary theories
in predictions, different reasons
Felson (e.g. 2002) and Chivalry
IPV not “special”, like other types of aggression
rather than having different motives
Society doesn’t tolerate it, quite the opposite
Originating at early age where boys don’t hit
girls
Suggests norms of chivalry cause men to inhibit
their aggression towards women
Women have no such inhibitions as there are
few social sanctions to their aggression
Studies (e.g. Harris & Cook, 1994) suggest
men’s violence is condemned much more
Johnson’s Theory of IPV
Johnson (1995) tried to bridge feminist
and family violence research.
“Patriarchal terrorism” vs. “common couple
violence”
Later added “violent resistance” and
“mutual violent control”
Evidence for the typology:
Graham-Kevan and Archer (2003)
Same-Sex Aggression
Sex difference usually in favour of men
Archer (2004) Sex differences in real world
settings confirmed this
Supported by crime statistics – 19% of 16-25
commit violent crimes compared to 10% women.
Felson (2002) men are most at risk for being
victims of violence
Why? Women and fear?
Do women increase, or men decrease,
their violence from same-sex to
partner?
Tee & Campbell (2009) had participants rate the
likelihood of using physical & verbal aggression
to a same-sex and opposite sex target
Found women were more likely to be aggressive
to partner and men more likely to be aggressive
to same-sex.
Men’s decrease was greater than women's
increase
Richardson & Green (2006)
Aim of Study
To test the male control theory (feminist
perspective) of IPV
Men would show more controlling behavior to partner
Controlling behavior to a partner would be linked to IPV
for men but not for women;
Men’s controlling behavior to a partner would be
unrelated to their physical aggression to same-sex non-
intimates
Additionally test assumptions from Johnson’s
Typology:
Similar proportions of men and women are to be found
among perpetrators of low-level non-controlling physical
aggression (“situational couple violence”),
Men are to be found disproportionately among the
perpetrators of high-level controlling physical
aggression (“intimate terrorists”).
Method
1104 participants were recruited with 706
women and 398 men. There was an average
age of 23.55
Some online and some paper version
The following measures were used:
Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, 1979) – Perpetration
and Victimisation for IPV, Perpetration for aggression
to same-sex non-intimates
Controlling Behaviour Scale (CBS-R: Graham-Kevan
& Archer, 2005) – Perpetration and Victimisation
Results
Women
perpetrated
significantly more
physically and
verbally
aggression
Women reported
more verbal
aggression from
partner but no
difference for
physical
Results
Men used
significantly
more verbal
and physical
aggression to
same-sex non
intimates
Results
Within-subjects analyses of d values were
performed to ascertain the extent to which men
and women were raising or lowering their
aggression from same-sex non-intimates to their
partners
The within-subjects effect size for physical
aggression was d = -.22 (t = -4.21, p < .001) for
men, and d = .20 (t = 5.21; p < .001) for women.
This indicates that men lower their aggression
from same-sex non-intimates to their partners
whereas women raise their aggression from
same-sex non-intimates to partner to a similar
extent.
Results
Women
perpetrated
significantly
more
controlling
behaviour but
similar
victimisation
scores
Johnson’s Typology
IPV and Aggression to Same-Sex
Others
IPV, aggression to same-sex others and
control were all strongly associated
These were strongly associated for both
men and women
Men and women had similar predictors
In correlation and regression analysis
Similar magnitude
Contradicts several aspects of the theory
Hypotheses
Men would show more controlling behavior to
partner
Controlling behavior to a partner would be linked to
IPV for men but not for women;
Men’s controlling behavior to a partner would be
unrelated to their physical aggression to same-sex
non-intimates
Similar proportions of men and women are to be
found among perpetrators of low-level non-
controlling physical aggression (“situational couple
violence”),
Men are to be found disproportionately among the
perpetrators of high-level
Hypotheses
Summary of Findings
Sex differences in both types of
aggression
Partial support for Johnson’s typology
Very little support for male control theory
Similar findings for men and women
Association of control and same-sex
aggression
Men inhibited their aggression towards
their partners
Implications for Research
Supports studying IPV within context of
other types of aggression – focus on
perpetrator characteristics not societal
values
Control and same-sex aggression -
controlling IPV perpetrators have a
coercive interpersonal style rather than
being patriarchal
Support for chivalry theory and normative
protection of women
Implications for Policy and
Practice
Current IPV interventions in UK, US and
Canada, roots in feminist research and theory
The Duluth Model (Pence & Paymar, 1993)
designed to protect women from controlling and
abusive men – curriculum based on power and
control, perceived to be male problem
Other models (e.g. Finkel, 2009) argue self
regulatory training would be more useful,
framework for both IPV and other aggression
Affects resources – 4000 refuges for women, 78
for men (some actually available for both)
Thank you for listening!
Any questions?
Bates, E. A., Graham-Kevan, N. & Archer,
J. (under review) Testing predictions from
the male control theory of men’s partner
violence. Manuscript Submitted to
Aggressive Behavior
Copies available on request, please take a
card with my email address on.
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