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The Relationship of Men’s and Women’s Partner Violence to Personality and Psychopathology

Abstract and Figures

The aim of the study was to test two competing views on the study of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), namely the feminist and general violence perspectives. The feminist perspective views IPV as having an individual etiology and should not be considered within the context of other types of aggression (e.g. Dobash & Dobash, 1979). The first part of the project tested a number of hypotheses derived from the feminist theory of IPV – including Johnson’s (1995) typology. Results provided contradictory evidence for this theory including, but not limited to, women’s preponderance to perpetrate IPV and controlling behaviors at a greater frequency than men, the lack of significant differences in classification for Johnson’s typology and the finding that same-sex aggression perpetration was associated with controlling behaviors towards a partner. The second part of the project then went onto to explore studying IPV within a violence perspective. This involved examining associations between aggression and other personality and psychopathology variables to determine their predictive power. The series of studies involved examining both stable and dynamic risk factors that have been found in the previous literature to be associated with IPV and same-sex aggression namely: (1) paired variables of cost-benefit assessment and instrumental-expressive beliefs; (2) self-control, empathy, anxiety and (3) psychopathic traits. Results will be discussed with reference to the findings for the theoretical literature and implications for treatment and interventions.
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The Relationship of Men’s and
Women’s Partner Violence to
Personality and Psychopathology
Dr Elizabeth Bates
To give a brief overview of the background
Present findings of my PhD
Testing the male control theory
Testing an alternative framework for understanding
To discuss the implications and future directions
Intimate Partner Violence Research
IPV Stereotypical view
dominant male perpetrator
Typologies to influence
Male Victims Steinmetz
“Battered Husband
Feminist Theory and Literature
Dobash and Dobash (1979; 2004)
VaW should be studied separately, not in context of
other family violence or any other aggression
Not psychopathology or personality but socially and
historically constructed control patriarchy
Husband/wife = parent/child inequalities in power,
authority and status, punished if needed
Women’s violence is trivial or self-defence
Police and crime data
Challenge gender neutral terms used to describe IPV
Feminist Perspective
Cause of IPV is gender; it’s a gendered
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
Dobash and Dobash (1979) did bring the
terms “domestic violence” and “domestic
abuse” into everyday language
Sex Differences in Aggression
Differing pattern of sex differences (e.g. Archer, 2000;
Archer, 2004)
Parity in perpetration for men and women (e.g. Bates
& Graham-Kevan, 2014)
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
Johnson’s Theory of IPV
Johnson (1995) tried to bridge feminist and family
violence research.
“Patriarchal terrorism” vs. “common couple
Later added “violent resistance” and “mutual violent
Evidence for the typology subtypes (e.g. Graham-
Kevan & Archer, 2003)
Not for gender differences: Bates & Graham-Kevan
(in press)
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
Is IPV different?
Felson & Messner (1998) found that men and women
who murder their partners were equally likely to have
violent criminal records
Feminist suggest female offenders would tend to be
non-violent in other circumstances
Personality factors and IPV perpetration are similar for
men and women (e.g., Ehrensaft, Cohen & Johnson,
IPV and same-sex aggression are related (Bates et al.,
2014) and both are related to controlling behaviour
Malcolm George
Examined history of male victims
“Riding the Donkey backwards”
Punishment = evidence of frequency of crime
“Riding skimmington” – skimming ladle, seen as a
weapon used by “Mrs Skimmington”
Procession of victim and his wife (or neighbours!), loud
musical instruments, animal horns (cuckolded)
Supports assertion that patriarchy may be a symptom
of an evolved evolutionary concern for paternity
Patriarchy reacting to tradition being threatened.
Is women’s violence trivial?
Hines, et al. (2007): callers to DAH, found over 90%
experienced controlling behaviour and other reported
being stalked, they were fearful
They experienced frustrations with the systems in
terms of seeking help.
Other studies suggest men too suffer the mental health
problems that are associated with IPV (e.g., Próspero &
Kim, 2009; Hines & Douglas, 2011).
Issue here is often due to the comparison of abused
men to abused women, rather than non abused men
(e.g. Herzberger, 1996).
Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men
“ addition, male victims have unique experiences
in that their female abusers are able to use a system
that is designed to aide female victims of domestic
violence. Thus, some female perpetrators of IPV
manipulate their husbands because they know that
the system is designed without the abused male’s
experiences in mind, and that more often than not
people will not believe or take seriously these men’s
Hines et al., (2007)
Hines et al. (2007)
Examples from Callers
“I tried to call the cops but she wouldn’t let me . . . She beat
me up, punched me . . . . She raped me . . . I tried to fight
her off, but she was too strong. . . . I was bleeding and she
wouldn’t let me got to the doctor’s.
“G reports that his estranged wife frequently targeted his
genitals in her attacks, which included head butting and
choking. Police were called to his home six times; one call
resulted in the wife’s arrest.
“I was writhing, crying in the corner . . . I couldn’t get up for
two hours . . . she kicked me in the groin at least 12 times.
“She held a knife to my genitals and threatened to cut them
Foundation of feminist theory posited to be a male
Emotional abuse, controlling behaviour, psychological
aggression big overlap
Includes financial control, humiliation, trying to control
their behaviour, restrict time with family and friends
Studies have found control is associated with higher
levels of aggression (e.g. Bates et al., 2014)
Predicts worse health outcomes (e.g. Leone et al., 2004)
Acknowledged now as a crime
Examples of women’s use of control
“I don’t know our phone number here because she
changed it and it’s unlisted. I have tried to get it but I
haven’t been able to . . . . She checks the caller ID to see
who has called when she comes home from work and
she locks up my sneakers in the daytime.
“She convinces me that I am wrong all the time. She
came at me flailing her arms hitting me and I went
outside to get away from her and she locked me
out...but she wouldn’t let me back in.
“Yelling, screaming at me that if I don’t shut up, I won’t
live to see tomorrow.
“I started the car and she stood behind the car with the
babyThen she put the baby on the ground behind the
car where I couldn’t see her so I wouldn’t leave.
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-
Men’s decrease was greater than women's increase
Richardson & Green (2006) similar study
manipulating target gender and relationship
relationship type here was more important
Aims (Part 1)
To test the male control theory (feminist perspective) of
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”).
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
Women perpetrated
significantly more
physically and
verbally aggression
Women reported
more verbal
aggression from
partner but no
difference for
IPV Physical Perp
IPV Physical Vic
Men used
more verbal and
aggression to
same-sex non
SSA Physical
SSA Verbal
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.
behaviour but
Control Vic
Johnson’s Typology
Intimate Terrorism
Mutual Violent
Situation Couple
Violent Resistance
Intimate Terrorism
Mutual Violent Control
Situation Couple Violence
Violent Resistance
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
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-
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
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-
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
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
Men inhibited their aggression towards their
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
An alternative model
Explored other explanations and factors of
IPV focusing on perpetrator characteristics
There is a wealth of literature that details the
risk factors and assessment measures used
within the field of adult violence (e.g.,
Douglas & Skeem, 2005).
These include impulsivity (e.g., Campbell,
2006), personality disorder (e.g., Berman,
Fallon & Coccaro, 1998) and anxiety (e.g.,
Gratz, Tull & Gunderson, 2007).
Finkel (2007)
Finkel (2007) - used self-regulatory literature to create a
framework, a process-oriented meta-theory
Encompasses that risk factors may strengthen the
impelling forces, weaken the inhibiting forces, or both
Finkel’s (2007) I3 theory
Instigating trigger (e.g. feelings of jealousy), for IPV to
occur there must be an interaction between the
impelling and inhibiting forces of the perpetrator.
Finkel (2007)
Examples of strong impelling forces include
personality disorders and attachment anxiety,
Examples of weak inhibiting forces include low self-
control and low empathy.
The interaction of these variables leads to an output
that determines the risk of violence in any given
conflict situation
Support for this model has been found in a number
of experimental studies (e.g. Finkel & Foshee, 2006;
Finkel, DeWall, Oaten, Slotter & Foshee, 2009; Finkel
et al., 2012
Aims (part 2)
Investigate an alternative framework for
exploring risk factors for aggression
Sex specific and aggression specific effects
Presented within Finkel’s framework
Series of impelling and inhibiting variables
Multi-study paper subsets of original data
Student samples N = between 345-395
Minimum 33% male sample to allow gender
Measures included CTS (Straus, 1979) and
CBS (Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2005)
Testing impelling and inhibiting influences on
IPV and same-sex aggression
Study 1
Tested pairs of impelling (perceived benefits and
instrumental beliefs) and inhibiting (perceived costs
and expressive beliefs) forces
Cost-Benefit analysis (e.g. Archer et al., 2010) and
Instrumental/Expressive beliefs (e.g. Campbell &
Muncer, 1987)
Both types of men’s aggression was predicted by
perceived benefits and instrumental beliefs; women’s
IPV was predicted by perceived costs and expressive
beliefs whereas their SSA was predicted by
instrumental beliefs and perceived costs.
Study 2
Inhibiting forces (namely self-control, anxiety
and empathy)
Less research focused on risk assessment in
terms of inhibiting forces
Self-control was the strongest predictor of
both types of men’s and women’s aggression.
Study 3
Followed up on Study 2 regarding self-control by
exploring psychopathic traits;
Primary psychopathy representing a lack of anxiety
Secondary psychopathy representing a lack of self-
Primary psychopathy predicted men’s IPV but
secondary psychopathy predicted men’s SSA.
For women, primary predicted women’s SSA and
secondary predicted women’s IPV and SSA
Summary of findings
The findings indicated that IPV and SSA share
some similarities and differences in the
predictive power of these variables
There were also similarities and difference in
predictors for men and women.
The findings demonstrated both impelling and
inhibiting factors has predictive power over
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
This model not only excludes the possibility of female
perpetrators, but also many male perpetrators who are
not controlling and whose aggression could be attributed
to other variables, such as personality disorders or a lack
of self-control.
It doesn’t accommodate IPV within same-sex relationships
The Duluth Model
Low quality or no
published evaluations
Broadly “pro-feminist
signifying that they
consider violence
against women to be
an issue of gender
power & domination”
(Dobash 2000)
High attrition
Pro-feminist Duluth Approach
Not based on strong empirical evidence
Educational not designed to be therapuetic
Ineffective: ”there is little support for the
Duluth Model regarding the effectiveness of
these types of programs in reducing violence …
Meta-analytic reviews of outcomes for these
approaches have consistently found them to
be of limited effectiveness, with effect sizes
near zero” (Jewel & Wormith, 2010)
Duluth Model
Risk factors that have been demonstrated to be
associated with both aggressive behaviour
Overlap between IPV, other types of aggression, control
The research detailing gender parity in IPV frequency
and prevalence of perpetration (e.g., Archer, 2000)
Mutuality in most IPV (e.g., Stets and Straus, 1992),
The finding that people perceive women’s use of IPV to
be more acceptable and men’s use to be abhorrent
(e.g., Sorenson & Taylor, 2005).
Research often suggests it to be unsuccessful e.g. Babcock et
al. (2004) meta-analysis of 22 studies found minimal effects, as
effective as arrest or other CJS sanctions
Effectiveness of programmes is affected by the position of the
Feminist researchers tend to speak more favourably (e.g.
Gondolf & Jones, 2001)
Others grounded in evidence based practice (e.g. Dutton &
Corvo, 2007; Graham-Kevan, 2009) are more critical and using
different methods have demonstrated different outcomes
Akoensi et al. (2013) reviewed existing provision within Europe
finding only 12 evaluations that fulfilled their criteria
What about the impact for victims?
12 organisations offer refuge for male victims in the UK
total of 63 spaces, of which 17 are dedicated to male DV
victims only (the rest being for victims of either gender).
For female victims, there are nearly 400 specialist
domestic violence organisations providing 4,000 spaces.
On at least 120 occasions in 2010 a caller decided not to
consider a refuge or safe house because they were too
far away and would mean having to completely uproot
their lives, often having to leave their children and their
job behind.
Mankind Initiative
Concluding Thoughts
Research examining male victims and their
experience is increasing
There is a need for change for:
More services for men
Intervention for women perpetrators
Perpetrator programmes grounded in evidence
based practice and not politics
More research e.g. LGBT, Perpetrator
programme evaluations
Thank you for listening!
Any questions?
Bates, E. A., Graham-Kevan, N., & Archer, J. (2014) Testing
predictions from the male control theory of men’s partner
violence. Aggressive Behavior, 40 (1) 42-55
Bates, E. A. & Graham-Kevan, N. (in press) Is controlling
aggression related to problem presentation? A test of
Johnson’s assumptions regarding sex-differences and the
role of control. Partner Abuse.
Bates, E. A., Archer, J. & Graham-Kevan, N. (2014) Impelling
and Inhibiting influences of Aggression towards Partners
and Same-Sex Others. Manuscript under review..
... In an analysis of different forms of aggression to partners and to strangers, Felson, Ackerman, and Yeon (2003) found that men (but not women) were more inhibited about using violence to their partners than they were to strangers. This and three other recent studies (Archer, Parveen, & Webb, 2011;Bates, 2011;Cross, Tee, & Campbell, 2011) show that we cannot generalize from men's levels of violence outside the home to their levels within it, where it is typically likely to be at a lower level. ...
... We have reservations about Johnson's distinction between two forms of IPV, one severe repeated controlling abuse by one partner, and the other mutual low-level physical aggression not motivated by control. These reservations are articulated elsewhere (Archer, 2009, p. 295) and principally concern the selective nature of the samples on which Johnson based his distinction, and subsequent findings that the pattern initially labeled as 'patriarchal terrorism' contains a large proportion of women perpetrators (e.g., Bates, 2011;Bates & Graham-Kevan, in press;Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2011;LaRoche, 2007). ...
Full-text available
Purpose. The ideologically based view of intimate partner violence has traditionally influenced policy and practice in modern western nations and dominated cross-national research and practice. This review considers the validity of the position statement of a British organization responsible for accrediting many male perpetrator programmes in the statutory, voluntary, and private sector as an example of this ideological influence. Method. The position statement, informed by the patriarchal view of partner violence, is evaluated using empirical evidence from various branches of the social sciences, including psychology, that have not been guided by the patriarchal view. Results. Overwhelming empirical evidence is presented, which refutes ideologically driven assumptions that have been put forward to guide current practice and evaluation of it. Conclusions. This review highlights the need to investigate intimate partner violence from a scientific and gender-inclusive perspective. The implications for psychological practice are discussed.
... To measure anxiety, the Dispositional Anxiety Measure (DAM) was used (Bates, 2012). The DAM was developed to measure the GENDER DIFFERENCES IN PSYCHOPATHY 7 general tendency to become anxious or worried and consists of 10 items. ...
Full-text available
The current study aimed to investigate gender differences within primary and secondary psychopathy and how cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, anxiety, and self-control were associated in a non-clinical sample. Men displayed significantly higher rates of primary psychopathy than women, but no significant difference was found for secondary psychopathy. It was found that low cognitive empathy, low emotional empathy, and low self-control predicted primary psychopathy for men and women; however, high anxiety was an added predictor for women. Both low cognitive empathy and low self-control predicted secondary psychopathy for both men and women. The implications of the gender differences found will be discussed in the context of current assessment tools and psychopathy research.
The Toronto Empathy Questionnaire and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory were administered to 124 (94 female, 30 male) undergraduate students. The female participants reported more empathy and trait anxiety than men, and there was a trend for a similar gender difference with state anxiety. Empathy was inversely related to both kinds of anxiety in women. No relationships between empathy and either type of anxiety were seen for the men. The lower empathy with increased anxiety was discussed in terms of a depletion of emotional resources.
The current studies examined whether several risk and protective factors operate similarly for intimate partner violence (IPV) and same-sex aggression (SSA) in the same sample, and to assess whether they show similar associations for men and women. Study 1 (N = 345) tested perceived benefits and costs, and instrumental and expressive beliefs about aggression: perceived costs predicted IPV and SSA for both men and women. Expressive beliefs predicted IPV (more strongly for women), and instrumental beliefs predicted SSA. Study 2 (N = 395) investigated self-control, anxiety and empathy, finding that self-control strongly predicted both types of aggression in both sexes. Study 3 (N = 364) found that primary psychopathy (involving lack of anxiety) was associated with IPV for men and SSA in both sexes, whereas secondary psychopathy (involving lack of self-control) was associated with IPV and SSA in both sexes. Overall there were both similarities and differences in the risk factors associated with IPV and SSA, and for men and women. The implications of the findings for theoretical debates about the study of IPV are discussed. Aggr. Behav. 9999:1–13, 2016.
Purpose. To reply to the comments made by Debbonaire and Todd (2012) in relation to our critique of Respect's Position Statement. Method. We examined their reply in relation to our original article and to the wider research literature. Results. We show that Debbonaire and Todd's reply is largely a series of assertions, for which little or no supporting evidence is offered. Their argument is first that we are misplaced in criticizing their Position Statement, and second that the main points of the statement are defendable. We indicate why our criticisms of the statement still stand. Conclusions. We argue that Respect have not countered our overall criticism of their position that intimate partner violence (IPV) can only be addressed as a gendered issue, that is as a consequence of patriarchal values enacted at the individual level. Instead we advocate a gender-inclusive approach applying a knowledge base derived from robust empirical research on IPV and more widely from research on human aggression.
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