ArticlePDF Available

Enduring Vulnerabilities, Relationship Attributions, and Couple Conflict: An Integrative Model of the Occurrence and Frequency of Intimate Partner Violence

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

We tested an integrative model of individual and dyadic variables contributing to intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration. Based on the vulnerability-stress-adaptation (VSA) model, we hypothesized that three "enduring vulnerabilities" (i.e., antisocial behavior, hostility, and depressive symptoms) would be associated with a "maladaptive process" (i.e., negative relationship attributions) that would lead to difficulties in couple conflict resolution, thus leading to IPV. Among a community sample of 167 heterosexual couples who were expecting their first child, we used an actor-partner interdependence model to account for the dyadic nature of conflict and IPV, as well as a hurdle count model to improve upon prior methods for modeling IPV data. Study results provided general support for the integrative model, demonstrating the importance of considering couple conflict in the prediction of IPV and showing the relative importance of multiple predictor variables. Gender symmetry was observed for the prediction of IPV occurrence, with gender differences emerging in the prediction of IPV frequency. Relatively speaking, the prediction of IPV frequency appeared to be a function of enduring vulnerabilities among men, but a function of couple conflict among women. Results also revealed important cross-gender effects in the prediction of IPV, reflecting the inherently dyadic nature of IPV, particularly in the case of "common couple violence." Future research using longitudinal designs is necessary to verify the conclusions suggested by the current results.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Enduring Vulnerabilities, Relationship Attributions, and Couple
Conflict: An Integrative Model of the Occurrence and Frequency
of Intimate Partner Violence
Amy D. Marshall,
Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University
Damon E. Jones, and
Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University
Mark E. Feinberg
Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University
Abstract
We tested an integrative model of individual and dyadic variables contributing to intimate partner
violence (IPV) perpetration. Based on the vulnerability-stress-adaptation (VSA) model, we
hypothesized that three “enduring vulnerabilities” (i.e., antisocial behavior, hostility, and
depressive symptoms) would be associated with a “maladaptive process” (i.e., negative
relationship attributions) that would lead to difficulties in couple conflict resolution, thus leading
to IPV. Among a community sample of 167 heterosexual couples who were expecting their first
child, we used an actor-partner interdependence model to account for the dyadic nature of conflict
and IPV, as well as a hurdle count model to improve upon prior methods for modeling IPV data.
Study results provided general support for the integrative model, demonstrating the importance of
considering couple conflict in the prediction of IPV and showing the relative importance of
multiple predictor variables. Gender symmetry was observed for the prediction of IPV occurrence,
with gender differences emerging in the prediction of IPV frequency. Relatively speaking, the
prediction of IPV frequency appeared to be a function of enduring vulnerabilities among men, but
a function of couple conflict among women. Results also revealed important cross-gender effects
in the prediction of IPV, reflecting the inherently dyadic nature of IPV, particularly in the case of
“common couple violence.” Future research using longitudinal designs is necessary to verify the
conclusions suggested by the current results.
Keywords
partner abuse; depression; hostility; antisocial behavior; cognitions
More than one in five couples in the United States have experienced intimate partner
violence (IPV) during the past year (Schafer, Caetano, & Clark, 1998). Most of this violence
is of moderate severity (e.g., pushing, grabbing, shoving), which has been termed “common
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Amy D. Marshall, Department of Psychology, 415 Moore Building,
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802. AmyMarshall@psu.edu.
Publisher's Disclaimer: The following manuscript is the final accepted manuscript. It has not been subjected to the final copyediting,
fact-checking, and proofreading required for formal publication. It is not the definitive, publisher-authenticated version. The American
Psychological Association and its Council of Editors disclaim any responsibility or liabilities for errors or omissions of this manuscript
version, any version derived from this manuscript by NIH, or other third parties. The published version is available at
www.apa.org/pubs/journals/fam
NIH Public Access
Author Manuscript
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
Published in final edited form as:
J Fam Psychol
. 2011 October ; 25(5): 709–718. doi:10.1037/a0025279.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
couple violence.” Common couple violence, in contrast to the more severe and instrumental
“patriarchal terrorism,” arises largely as a function of relationship conflict (Johnson, 1995).
Despite not being of the greatest severity, common couple violence frequently leads to
serious negative consequences (Whitaker, Saltzman, Haileyesus, & Swahn, 2007). Thus, it is
important to understand, predict, and ultimately prevent relationship conflict that sometimes
leads to IPV.
In the vulnerability-stress-adaptation (VSA) model, Karney and Bradbury (1995) propose
that individual differences in enduring vulnerabilities, such as psychopathology and
personality characteristics, affect how individuals and couples adapt to stress, thus impacting
how they handle conflict and disagreement. We propose that such enduring vulnerabilities
lead to difficulties during attempts to resolve conflict, thus leading to IPV. Indeed, several
individual characteristics have been independently associated with both couple conflict and
IPV perpetration, and we focus on three that have been shown to be among the most
important: depressive symptoms, antisocial personality characteristics, and trait hostility.
A vast empirical literature has substantiated the existence of a link between symptoms of
depression and marital conflict. Although this relationship is undoubtedly bidirectional and
reciprocal (e.g., Whisman, Uebelacker, & Weinstock, 2004), data suggest that the effect may
be more strongly in the direction of depression leading to marital conflict (e.g., Atkins,
Dimidjian, Bedics, & Christensen, 2009). Coyne (1976) argued that symptoms of depression
lead to irritable and hostile communication behaviors that evoke negative reactions. In
support of this view, depression has been associated with expressions of negativity
(Schudlich, Papp, & Cummings, 2004) and tension (Kahn, Coyne, & Margolin, 1985), fewer
positive conflict resolution strategies (Schudlich et al., 2004), and less problem solving
(Biglan, 1985) during couple conflicts. Further, communication behaviors have been found
to mediate the link between depression and marital distress (Heene, Buysse, & Van Oost,
2006). Although fewer studies have examined men’s than women’s depression, those that
have included both men and women have often found that the link to marital conflict tends
to be stronger for women than men (Whisman, 2001), but opposite results have been
reported as well (e.g., Schudlich et al., 2004).
The link between depressive symptoms and IPV perpetration has been studied to a lesser
extent, yet a clear relation has been established among men (Schumacher, Feldbau-Kohn,
Slep, & Heyman, 2001) with more recent literature also demonstrating a relation among
women (Vaeth, Ramisetty-Mikler, & Caetano, 2010). Kim and Capaldi (2004) examined
whether depressive symptoms predict IPV perpetrated by oneself or one’s partner. Men’s
depression was longitudinally associated with both men’s and women’s IPV perpetration,
while women’s depression was cross-sectionally and longitudinally associated with men’s
and women’s IPV perpetration.
Given the relation with aggression in general, it is not surprising that antisocial personality
characteristics are strongly associated with IPV perpetration (e.g., Capaldi & Owen, 2001;
Kim & Capaldi, 2004; Magdol et al., 1997). However, antisocial personality characteristics
are also associated with relationship conflict (Humbad, Donnellan, Iacono, & Burt, 2010),
psychological abuse perpetration (Kim & Capaldi, 2004), and divorce (Wymbs et al., 2008).
It may be that individuals with elevated antisocial personality characteristics engage in
coercive tactics during conflict, which lead to ineffective arguing, conflict escalation, and
physical aggression (Capaldi & Owen, 2001). In contrast to common assumptions that
antisocial personality characteristics are more relevant to men than women, gender
differences in these effects rarely emerge (but see Magdol et al., 1997 for an exception).
Marshall et al. Page 2
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Multiple literature reviews and meta-analyses have concluded that hostility is associated
with IPV perpetration, at least among men (Norlander & Eckhardt, 2005; Schumacher et al.,
2001). In addition, hostility has been associated with husbands’ and wives’ conflict and
withdrawal during relationship problem discussions (Newton, Kiecolt-Glaser, Glaser, &
Malarkey, 1995). We focus on hostility, as opposed to the closely aligned construct of anger,
because hostility is considered a higher order construct that leads to anger, and anger can
occur in a functional manner that is not destructive to a relationship. We define hostility as
an attitudinal construct and a cognitive trait including cynicism, mistrust, and denigration of
others (see Norlander & Eckhardt, 2005).
Within the VSA model, Karney and Bradbury (1995) additionally propose that adaptive (or
maladaptive) processes can affect how enduring vulnerabilities are translated into marital
distress or conflict. One such maladaptive process that has been previously linked to both
marital conflict (Bradbury & Fincham, 1990; Fincham et al., 1997) and IPV (Costa &
Babcock, 2008; Holtzworth-Munroe & Hutchinson, 1993; O’Leary, Slep, & O’Leary, 2007)
is the tendency towards negative relationship (and partner) attributions. Thus, negative
relationship attributions may serve as a mechanism linking psychopathology and personality
characteristics to conflict that leads to IPV. Research has linked negative relationship
attributions to depressive symptoms (e.g., Gordon, Friedman, Miller, & Gaertner, 2005),
antisocial personality characteristics (e.g., Maccoon & Newman, 2006), and hostility (e.g.,
Wingrove & Bond, 1998). Moreover, negative relationship attributions have been found to
mediate the link between individual characteristics and relationship conflict (e.g., Heene et
al., 2006). Given their role as a potential mechanism linking individuals’ enduring
vulnerabilities to couple conflict and IPV, program developers and clinicians often make
relationship attributions a target of change in cognitive behavioral couples therapy.
Proposed model and current study
The theoretical model we propose is depicted in Figure 1. Enduring vulnerabilities are
considered the most “upstream” aspect of the model, with hypothesized influence on
negative relationship attributions, which, in turn, influence couple conflict. Couple conflict
is depicted as the proximal influence on IPV perpetration. We do not view negative
relationship attributions as likely to fully mediate the influence of enduring vulnerabilities
on couple conflict; hence, we include paths from enduring vulnerabilities directly to couple
conflict and IPV. Similarly, we include paths from negative relationship attributions to IPV
perpetration. Further, we allow for the possibility that the enduring vulnerabilities of one
partner may influence negative relationship attributions of the other partner, as well as the
possibility that enduring vulnerabilities and negative relationship attributions of one partner
may influence IPV perpetrated by the other partner (i.e., cross-partner effects).
In the current study, we examine the proposed model among a sample of pregnant couples
because this is a time of increased stress during which couple conflict and IPV increases
(Belsky & Pensky, 1988; Straus & Stewart, 1999). We use path analysis with cross-sectional
data to examine the model. The cross-sectional nature of the data limits our confidence in
causality of relations, but we see this as an initial step in a program of research designed to
lead to more direct causal models. Further, the enduring vulnerabilities that we focus on in
this report (i.e., depression, antisocial behavior, and hostility) likely are not the only
influences on negative relationship attributions, couple conflict, and IPV. However, we
believe that our use of these variables will provide a reasonable, albeit not exhaustive, test of
the influence of enduring vulnerabilities on the variables of interest.
Methodological advancements of the current work include the use of the actor-partner
interdependence model (Cook & Kenny, 2005) to take into account the interactive nature of
Marshall et al. Page 3
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
the dyad, despite primary measurement of intra-individual variables. We also examine the
data using a unique means of modeling IPV data that better accounts for the inherent
positive skew of IPV data. Given this skew, researchers must often decide between two
alternatives. First, one can examine variables associated with the presence vs. absence of
IPV, simply dichotomizing data into individuals or couples who report none vs. one or more
incidents of IPV (typically only measured during the past year). However, a great deal of
information is lost using this method. Moreover, some couples may experience low levels of
IPV only intermittently at times of especially high stress, such that they experience no IPV
in some years and one or two incidents in other years. Given what we know about patterns
of IPV, this could represent a substantial portion of couples, and we do not know if these
couples are more similar to couples who have never engaged in IPV or those who more
frequently engage in IPV. Thus, simply dichotomizing couples on the occurrence of IPV is
not a fully satisfactory solution. Second, one can transform data to reduce skewness.
However, for distributions where the modal response is zero, transformations will not result
in a normally distributed outcome.
An alternative approach presented here is to utilize a count response model that more
appropriately represents IPV as the primary outcome. Within the framework of the count
response model, we sought to determine the best analytic structure from several alternatives:
Poisson, negative binomial, and hurdle models. Although Poisson-based count models are
the most commonly used and widely available through statistical software programs, they
assume that the data correspond to a Poisson distribution, where the mean and variance are
equivalent. Count models based on a negative binomial distribution are more appropriate
where data have a much greater variance than mean (i.e., over-dispersed). Additionally,
where data are characterized by a high number of zero counts (as is the case with IPV), zero-
inflated models may be the best alternative. Model estimation involves separate model
parameters that represent the likelihood for zero response (inflation) in addition to the
estimation of the frequency of the outcome. Zero-inflated Poisson (ZIP) and zero-inflated
negative binomial (ZINB) models both incorporate this extension within their distributional
structure. Finally, hurdle models provide a similar structure to the zero-inflated models
although, instead of separately modeling the inflation of zeroes in the data, these models
incorporate both a prediction of the outcome frequency as well as prediction of whether a
positive response occurred. The former part of this process involves a truncated count
regression, which only considers non-zero responses; when modeling IPV, this part of the
model would represent variability in IPV frequency only among those who committed
violent acts. The latter part of the model involves estimating the likelihood that individuals
are able to achieve a value of zero; when modeling IPV, this part of the model would
represent individuals’ likelihood of not being violent. More detail on various count models
can be found elsewhere (e.g., Atkins & Gallop, 2007; Coxe, West, & Aiken, 2009; Hilbe,
2007).
Methods
Participants
Participants included both members of 167 heterosexual cohabitating or married couples
who were age 18 or older and expecting their first child. Couples resided in rural areas,
towns, and small cities. Eighty-three percent of couples were married (compared to 67% of
parents of all infants born in the U.S.) and the majority of participants (91% of women and
90% of men) were Non-Hispanic White. Median annual family income was $65,000,
ranging from $2,500 to $162,500 (the highest possible response on the survey). Average
educational attainment was 15.0 (SD = 1.8) years for women and 14.5 (SD = 2.2) years for
men; 84.8% of women and 68.9% of men had at least some post-secondary school
education. Mean ages were 28.4 (SD = 4.9) years for women and 29.8 (SD = 5.6) years for
Marshall et al. Page 4
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
men. At the time of data collection, expectant mothers were an average of 22.4 (SD = 5.3;
range: 9 to 36) weeks pregnant.
Procedures
Participants were taking part in a randomized study testing Family Foundations, a
psychosocial prevention program for first-time parents (Feinberg, Jones, Kan, & Goslin, in
press; Feinberg & Kan, 2008; Feinberg, Kan, & Goslin, in press). Because only pre-
intervention data are included in the present study, the intervention will not be discussed
further. Couples were primarily recruited from childbirth education programs at two
hospitals located in small cities with nearby rural areas. After agreeing to participate and
signing an informed consent form approved by the University Institutional Review Board,
data were collected during a home visit.
Measures
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)—To measure violence in the couple relationship during
the past year, we used the Physical Assault subscale of the Revised Conflict Tactics Scales
(CTS2; Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996). The subscale includes eight
items asking respondents to rate the past-year frequency (on a 7-point scale ranging from 0
times to more than 20 times) of their own and their partner’s violent behaviors toward one
another. Items range from moderate severity (e.g., threw something at my partner that could
hurt) to high severity (e.g., used a knife or gun on my partner). A total IPV frequency score
was calculated by first scoring each response as the midpoint of the response category (e.g.,
3 to 5 times in the past year was scored as 4). Consistent with prior research (e.g., Gordis,
Margolin, & Vickerman, 2005; Slep & O'Leary, 2005), to avoid possible underreporting, we
combined partners’ reports for each item by using the higher frequency reported by either
partner. We then summed across the eight items to yield the total number of physical
assaults perpetrated by each individual over the past year. Original assessment of the scale
indicated a high level of internal consistency (alpha = .86). Based on box plots, five extreme
scores were truncated to a count of 30 in order to reduce the influence of outliers on analytic
models.
Couple Conflict—Because conflict is inevitable among couples, and not all conflict
manifestations are negative, we sought to assess unhealthy, chronic conflict that does not
lead to productive resolution. The Ineffective Arguing Inventory (Kurdek, 1994) assesses
couple conflict in which problems are not resolved and an ongoing sense of frustration and
conflict is engendered. The scale employs eight items (e.g., Our arguments are left hanging
and unresolved), with a 5-point Likert response scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5
(strongly agree). Alpha coefficients were .89 for women and .87 for men. The within-dyad
correlation between men and women on this measure was .52. We created an average score
for each couple to represent relationship conflict at the couple-level.
Negative Relationship Attributions—The Relationship Attribution Measure (Fincham
& Bradbury, 1992) asks respondents to consider hypothetical situations (e.g., Your partner
criticizes something you say) then rate several possible attributions for the partners’ behavior
(e.g., My partner criticized me on purpose rather than unintentionally) using a 5-point
Likert scale ranging from disagree strongly to agree strongly. A total negative relationship
attributions score was created by averaging across 23 attributions based on four hypothetical
situations. Alpha coefficients were .92 for women and .90 for men.
Antisocial Behavior—A four-item scale created for this study was used to measure
antisocial behaivor. The items inquired about the lifetime frequency of fighting, arrests,
prison, and traffic violations. Items had a five-point response scale, ranging from never to
Marshall et al. Page 5
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
four or more times. As this scale is summative in nature, internal consistency was not
examined. A log transformation was used to decrease positive skew.
Hostility—The Symptom Checklist 90-R (Derogatis & Cleary, 1977) six-item hostility
subscale asks respondents to rate the degree to which they were distressed by certain
feelings (e.g., Having urges to break or smash things) during the past seven days using a
five-point response scale, ranging from not at all to extremely. Alpha coefficients were .72
for women and .81 for men. A log transformation was used to decrease positive skew.
Depressive symptoms—A seven-item version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies
Depression (CES-D) scale asks respondents to indicate their feelings and outlook within the
past week using a four-level scale ranging from rarely/none of the time to always/most of the
time (Radloff, 1977). The average score of these seven items was used for the total score.
Alpha coefficients were .86 for women and .83 for men.
Family Income—To measure family income, participants’ reports on an ordinal scale were
rescaled to the midpoint of the range (e.g., $50,000–$54,999 was recoded to be $52,500) to
create a continuous variable. Because reports of total family income were highly correlated
across partners, we used the average of the two reports. Income was scaled in 1,000 dollar
increments.
Statistical models
Analyses were conducted using the actor-partner interdependence model (Cook & Kenny,
2005), treating partners in heterosexual couples as distinguishable members of a dyad. As
displayed in Figure 1, individuals’ enduring vulnerabilities (i.e., antisocial behavior,
hostility, depression) were modeled as predictors of three relationship outcomes: actor and
partner negative relationship attributions, couple conflict, and actor and partner IPV.
Individuals’ negative relationship attributions were modeled as influencing couple conflict
and both partners’ IPV. Relationship conflict was modeled as influencing both partners’
IPV. Family income was included as a control for IPV.
Although models of dyadic data can include partner-specific predictors and outcomes, in
many cases a more parsimonious model will provide a better fit of the data; that is, partner-
specific coefficients may not always be necessary. In each section of the path model, we
tested constraints on parameters to determine the best fitting model. This primarily involved
testing whether coefficients representing prediction of the outcomes (i.e., negative
relationship attributions, conflict and IPV) should be equal between partners or free to vary.
We also investigated whether cross-partner paths were necessary in the prediction of
negative relationship attributions and IPV. All model comparisons were carried out using
likelihood ratio (deviance) tests of nested models or comparison of Akaike Information
Criterion (AIC) fit indices from alternative models for the prediction of couple conflict and
IPV, respectively. As a first step in this process, we used AIC as a fit criterion to compare
models from alternative count distribution specifications in order to determine the most
appropriate statistical model. All analyses were executed in MPlus (Muthen & Muthen,
1998–2010).
Results
Table 1 provides descriptive statistics (means, standard deviations, ranges) and correlations
among the variables used in the analytic models. Men reported more antisocial behavior
than women (t = 8.49, p < .001), while women reported more depression (t = 4.72, p < .
001), negative relationship attributions (t = 2.97, p < .05), and IPV perpetration (t = 2.11,
Marshall et al. Page 6
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
p < .05) than men. Among all couples, 17.4% of men and 29.9% of women reported having
perpetrated IPV during the past year. Of those who reported perpetrating IPV, 26.0% of men
and 24.1% of women reported having perpetrated more than 10 acts of IPV during the past
year.
As a preliminary step of our model testing, we assessed the degree to which the partner dyad
was distinguishable (see Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006). Because the null hypothesis that
these couples were indistinguishable was found to be false (χ
2
(16) = 160.95; p = .000), we
considered models with partner-specific and cross-partner coefficients representing
prediction of outcomes.
We next determined which count model would most appropriately represent IPV within
these data. An initial model was specified with coefficients constrained to be equal between
men and women in the prediction of all three outcomes in the path model (i.e., negative
relationship attributions, couple conflict, and IPV), and cross-partner paths in the IPV
section of the model constrained to be zero. Using this path structure, based on comparison
of AIC values, the hurdle model (AIC = 2117.8) was found to provide a better fit for these
data than the Poisson (AIC = 2518.3), ZIP (AIC = 2260.7), negative binomial (AIC =
2136.1), or ZINB (AIC = 2120.2) models. We proceeded to use the hurdle count model
specification for our full model.
Figure 2 provides results of the actor-partner interdependence model, including regression
coefficients for the prediction of negative relationship attributions and couple conflict, odds-
ratios (ORs) for the prediction of IPV occurrence, and incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for the
prediction of IPV frequency. Standardized coefficients are presented to ease comparisons
among predictors with smaller and larger scales. ORs and IRRs were converted from
standardized coefficients. Because the hurdle model normally provides estimates of the
likelihood of achieving a value of zero (i.e., no IPV), we inverted coefficients for ease of
interpretation so that coefficients now represent the likelihood of achieving values other than
zero (i.e., the occurrence of IPV).
The first section of the model represents men’s and women’s enduring vulnerabilities (i.e.,
antisocial behavior, hostility, depression) as predictors of their own negative relationship
attributions. A model with all men’s and women’s predictors of negative relationship
attributions constrained to be equal provided a better fit than a model where predictors were
allowed to vary across partners (χ
2
(3) = 5.56; p = .13). In addition, separate tests indicated
that a more parsimonious model with cross-partner paths set to zero was appropriate such
that enduring vulnerabilities should not predict partners’ negative relationship attributions
(χ
2
(3) = 4.17; p = .24). Results showed that antisocial behavior and depressive symptoms,
but not hostility, positively predicted the degree of one’s own negative relationship
attributions (all p < .05).
The second section of the model represents negative relationship attributions and enduring
vulnerabilities as predictors of average couple conflict. A test of model fit indicated that
coefficients should be fixed between partners (χ
2
(3) = 0.41; p = .938). Results indicated that
hostility, depressive symptoms, and negative relationship attributions, but not antisocial
behavior, positively predicted couple conflict (all p < .01).
The third section of the model represents direct predictors of IPV. For the section of the
hurdle model representing the likelihood of IPV occurrence, a simpler model provided better
fit. All male-female predictors of likelihood of IPV perpetration were fixed to be equal
instead of varying by gender (χ
2
(6) = 9.47; p = .149). In addition, all partner cross-paths
predicting IPV occurrence were constrained at zero, with the exception of depression in
which including cross-partner coefficients (varying across partners) improved model fit (χ
2
Marshall et al. Page 7
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
(2) = 12.45; p = .002). Specifically, men’s depressive symptoms positively predicted the
likelihood of women’s IPV perpetration (p < .01); this same effect was not found in the
prediction of men’s IPV by women’s depression. Results indicated a marginal, but
statistically non-significant, positive association between negative relationship attributions
and IPV occurrence (p = .08). Couple conflict positively predicted IPV occurrence (p < .01).
Although not depicted in Figure 2, family income was negatively associated with IPV
occurrence (OR = 0.77; p < .01).
For the section of the hurdle model representing prediction of IPV perpetration frequency
among those who perpetrated IPV, a simpler specification was rejected indicating that all
coefficients should be allowed to vary among men and women for predicting one’s own IPV
perpetration (χ
2
(4) = 23.65; p = .000). In addition, separate tests indicated that two cross-
partner paths improved model fit: partner depression and partner antisocial behavior (χ
2
(4)
= 13.00; p = .011). Results indicated that men’s frequency of IPV perpetration was
positively predicted by one’s own hostility levels (p < .01) and one’s partner’s depressive
symptoms (p < .05). Women’s frequency of IPV perpetration was positively predicted by
men’s antisocial behavior (p < .05) and couple conflict (p < .01). A marginal, but
statistically non-significant effect was noted for women’s antisocial behavior predicting
their IPV perpetration frequency (p = .07). Although not depicted in Figure 2, family income
was negatively associated with men’s frequency of IPV perpetration (IRR = 0.60, p < .01).
Discussion
Few strategies have been shown to be effective in preventing or reducing IPV (Babcock,
Green, & Robie, 2004). One potential reason for the failure of preventive and treatment
interventions may be our imperfect understanding of the factors triggering IPV. Other
scholars have made important strides in understanding these factors (e.g., Holtzworth-
Munroe & Hutchinson, 1993; Kim & Capaldi, 2004; Norlander & Eckhardt, 2005), and this
paper builds on some of this work in seeking to develop a coherent model.
The results of the current study provide some support for the model we presented in Figure
1, which is based on the vulnerability-stress-adaptation (VSA) framework (Karney &
Bradbury, 1995). For both men and women, the enduring vulnerabilities of antisocial
behavior and depression were associated with one’s own negative relationship attributions.
In turn, men’s and women’s negative relationship attributions, as well as their depression
and hostility, were associated with increased couple conflict. Finally, couple conflict was
associated with the occurrence of men and women’s IPV. These findings speak to the far-
reaching consequences of enduring vulnerabilities, the role of individual and couple
variables in the prediction of IPV, and the applicability of the VSA framework to men’s and
women’s adverse relationship behaviors.
Although gender symmetry was found across most paths of the model, some gender
differences were also observed. Specifically, men’s (but not women’s) hostility predicted the
frequency of their IPV perpetration, while couple conflict predicted the frequency of
women’s (but not men’s) IPV perpetration. These findings may reflect the relatively more
individualized nature of men’s IPV perpetration and the especially dyadic nature of
women’s IPV perpetration. That is, in comparison to men’s IPV perpetration, women’s IPV
perpetration may be more likely to emerge as a direct function of couple conflict and self-
protection than as a function of individual characteristics (Stuart, Moore, Hellmuth, Ramsey,
& Kahler, 2006). These findings are consistent with findings that relations between hostility
and IPV perpetration have only been reported among men (Norlander & Eckhardt, 2005;
Schumacher et al., 2001). In addition, these findings stand in partial contrast to prior
literature that has failed to find gender differences in predictors of IPV (Carney, Buttell, &
Marshall et al. Page 8
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Dutton, 2007). Of course, the primary role of couple conflict and the limited role of one’s
own enduring vulnerabilities in women’s IPV perpetration may be specific to couples who
primarily engage in common couple violence, as appears to be the case for the current
community sample.
It is notable that gender differences were exclusively observed in the prediction of IPV
frequency. None of the examined within-person associations varied across genders when
predicting the occurrence of IPV among all (i.e., violent and nonviolent) individuals. In
contrast, when predicting IPV frequency among those who were violent, our model fitting
procedures indicated that all coefficients should be allowed to vary across men and women,
suggesting that the frequency of IPV perpetration may be a more gender-specific
phenomenon. These findings may reflect a difference in the nature of IPV perpetrated at a
low versus high frequency. That is, men and women may not differ in the factors leading to
one or two acts of IPV perpetration, but the factors leading to more frequently perpetrated
IPV do differ by gender. This finding can inform future research designed to examine
gender differences in IPV perpetration, and may be important in effective prevention and
treatment approaches targeting high-frequency couple violence.
We also found distinctions between the predictors of men’s IPV occurrence and IPV
frequency. Men’s hostility did not predict the occurrence of their IPV perpetration, but
among those who did perpetrate IPV, hostility predicted the frequency of violent behaviors.
In contrast, couple conflict predicted the occurrence of men’s IPV, but it did not predict IPV
frequency among those who were violent. These findings may reflect the dangerous nature
of intense couple conflict as it produces conditions in which “crossing the line” into the use
of violence occurs more easily, as well as the functional role of hostility in the escalation of
aggression (Norlander & Eckhardt, 2005).
The dyadic nature of the current study’s design revealed interesting cross-gender predictors
of IPV perpetration. Men’s depression and antisocial behavior were associated with the
occurrence and frequency of women’s IPV perpetration, respectively, and women’s
depression was associated with the frequency of men’s IPV perpetration. Using a different
sample and methodology, these findings partially replicate the work of Kim and Capaldi
(2004) in which women’s depression was associated with the frequency of men’s IPV
perpetration. Moreover, as a whole, the results speak to the need to use couple-based
methodologies to better understand IPV, which is inherently a dyadic process, particularly in
the case of common couple violence.
The strongest direct predictors of IPV were those pathways most proximal to IPV
perpetration, while more distal constructs in the model provided weaker direct prediction of
IPV. Specifically, no enduring vulnerabilities directly predicted the occurrence of one’s own
IPV, men’s hostility was the only enduring vulnerability to predict the frequency of one’s
own IPV, and negative relationship attributions only weakly (statistically nonsignificantly)
predicted IPV occurrence. In contrast, couple conflict predicted the occurrence of men’s and
women’s perpetration of IPV, as well as the frequency of women’s IPV perpetration. Thus,
the greater the level of ongoing, unresolved conflict among a couple, the more likely the
couple is to have reported past-year IPV and the more often women’s IPV is likely to have
occurred. This finding supports the view that the type of IPV found in a community sample
such as ours may be of the “common couple” variety, in which ineffective handling of
conflictual interactions escalates into aggression between partners. Enduring vulnerabilities
may primarily influence IPV through their influence on couple conflict.
We also found support for the link between negative relationship attributions and the level
of chronic couple conflict, consistent with earlier findings (Bradley & Fincham, 1990;
Marshall et al. Page 9
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Fincham et al., 1997) that have not, to our knowledge, been replicated by other researchers.
In contrast to other studies (Costa & Babcock, 2008; Holtzworth-Munroe & Hutchinson,
1993; O’Leary et al., 2007), we only found a weak (statistically nonsignificant) direct link
from negative relationship attributions to IPV occurrence and no relationship to IPV
frequency. Although we did not formally test meditational paths, the pattern of findings
from our models is consistent with the view that negative attributions are implicated in
dysfunctional conflict, and that such conflict may then lead to IPV. Thus, the current study
results advance prior work by suggesting how negative relationship attributions become
translated into IPV.
A broad literature consistently demonstrates that depression, antisocial behavior, and
hostility are three of the strongest individual factors associated with couple conflict and IPV,
and additional research links these enduring vulnerabilities with negative relationship
attributions. However, these vulnerabilities are typically examined separately. When
examined simultaneously in the current study, each of these factors was not uniquely
associated with negative relationship attributions, couple conflict, and IPV. As mentioned
above, this may be due to cross-partner correlations among predictors. It may also be due to
high intercorrelations among predictors. For example, in the current data, hostility and
depression were moderately correlated within individuals for both men and women.
Therefore, results for either variable may change if the other were excluded from our
models. However, covariate correlations were low enough to avoid issues of
multicollinearity on model stability.
A unique strength of the current study is the use of a hurdle count model to represent IPV in
the actor-partner interdependence model. This distinction has important implications that
typically are not adequately considered in the IPV literature. As discussed, couple conflict
directly predicted the occurrence of men’s IPV, but men’s hostility directly predicted their
IPV perpetration frequency. It may be that couple conflict creates conditions that facilitate
“crossing the line” into IPV perpetration, and high levels of hostility increase the likelihood
that one will cross the line given those conditions and/or the number of acts of IPV
perpetrated when one engages in violence. Similarly, men’s depression was associated with
the occurrence of women’s IPV perpetration, while women’s depression was associated with
the frequency of men’s IPV perpetration. If only occurrence or frequency of IPV were
examined in this study, we may have concluded that only one gender’s depression is an
important predictor of IPV. However, through the use of the hurdle count model, we can
begin to speculate about the role of depression in both partners, as well as a possible gender-
specific function of depression on the nature of IPV perpetration. Indeed, depression is
appraised differently based upon expectations of gender roles (Wisdom, Rees, Riley, &
Weis, 2007), which may have implications for the nature of IPV perpetration.
Although the current study results are generally consistent with the hypothesized model, a
weakness in the study design prevents us from making stronger claims in this initial
examination of the model. Specifically, the cross-sectional nature of the data prevents us
from further understanding the direction of effects. For example, because enduring
vulnerabilities are not necessarily immutable, IPV perpetration may contribute to the
persistence and severity of one’s enduring vulnerabilities. Similarly, IPV may lead to couple
conflict. IPV may lead partners to experience higher levels of fear and anxiety on the one
hand, and resentment, anger, and depression on the other. Both sets of feelings may reduce
capacity and motivation for problem solving, consequently leading to increased unresolved
conflict. Moreover, high levels of chronic, unresolved arguing may reinforce negative
attributions while extinguishing positive sentiments. To address such questions, it will be
important to continue examining this model, as well alternative models, using longitudinal
data. In addition, it will be important to examine this model using distinct measurement
Marshall et al. Page 10
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
modalities. Self-report was used for all measures in the current study, so it will be important
to use a multi-method framework to eliminate the possibility that some of the observed
correlations may be due to a method effect. We also note that model comparison tests
indicated that, in many cases, men’s and women’s coefficients were not statistically
different, so we constrained certain parameters to be equal across men and women in the
final models. It is possible that certain associations are distinguishable between genders, but
the degree of this difference was not detectable given our sample size. Although it can be
informative to examine gender differences throughout the actor-partner interdependence
model structure by specifying distinguishable effects regardless of the degree of difference,
we chose to present the most parsimonious model guided by significance testing.
One may view the restriction of the sample to couples expecting a first child as another
limitation of study design. However, this restriction is also perhaps a strength.
Understanding the interplay between individual characteristics and couple relations in
predicting IPV is of particular importance among couples about to become parents as IPV
and parent to child violence tend to co-occur in families (Slep & O’Leary, 2005). In
addition, it may be that understanding such pathways requires a narrowing of investigative
focus from all couples to a subset of couples based on important contextual characteristics
such as economic resources, race/ethnicity, or—as here—the developmental stage of family
life. Indeed, although presently conceptualized as a control variable, family income was
associated with the occurrence of men’s and women’s IPV, as well as the frequency of
men’s IPV perpetration. These findings are consistent with prior literature demonstrating a
relation between income level and men’s IPV perpetration (Schumacher et al., 2001), and
suggest that relatively low income and limited economic resources may be contextual
variables deserving of focused investigation.
Despite the preliminary nature of the study design, this work adds to the literature in a
number of important ways. We tested a comprehensive model that ties together prior
research on enduring vulnerabilities, typically examined in relation to either couple conflict
or IPV, but not both. Through simultaneous examination of multiple variables, the relative
importance of each variable was revealed, including important gender differences and cross-
gender effects. Indeed, most prior literature examining the current variables, particularly in
reference to IPV, was focused on men. We also examined negative relationship attributions
as one potential mechanism accounting for relations of interest. Analytically, use of the
actor-partner interdependence model to account for dyadic nature of conflict and IPV, as
well as use of the hurdle count model to improve upon prior methods for modeling IPV data,
are particular strengths that we hope researchers will build on in the future. The current
results, in addition to prior research, suggest that IPV prevention and treatment interventions
may prove more effective if couple conflict and other malleable factors (e.g., depressive
symptoms) are directly targeted for change.
Acknowledgments
Dr. Marshall is supported by a National Institutes of Health’s Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in
Women’s Health (BIRCWH) grant (1 K12 HD055882). The data for this study were collected in a research project
funded by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Development (HD042575) and the National
Institute of Mental Health (MH064125), Mark E. Feinberg, principal investigator.
References
Atkins DC, Dimidjian S, Bedics JD, Christensen A. Couple discord and depression in couples during
couple therapy and in depressed individuals during depression treatment. Journal of Consulting and
Clinical Psychology. 2009; 77:1089–1099. [PubMed: 19968385]
Marshall et al. Page 11
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Atkins DC, Gallop RJ. Rethinking how family researchers model infrequent outcomes: A tutorial on
count regression and zero-inflated models. Journal of Family Psychology. 2007; 21:726–735.
[PubMed: 18179344]
Babcock JC, Green CE, Robie C. Does batterers’ treatment work? A meta-analytic review of domestic
violence treatment. Clinical Psychology Review. 2004; 23:1023–1053. [PubMed: 14729422]
Belsky J, Pensky E. Marital change across the transition to parenthood. Marriage and Family Review.
1988; 12:4133–4156.
Biglan A. Problem-solving interactions of depressed women and their husbands. Behavior Therapy.
1985; 16:431–451.
Bradbury TN, Fincham FD. Attributions in marriage: Review and critique. Psychological Bulletin.
1990; 107:3–33. [PubMed: 2404292]
Capaldi DM, Owen LD. Physical aggression in a community sample of at-risk young couples: Gender
comparisons for high frequency, injury, and fear. Journal of Family Psychology. 2001; 15:425–440.
[PubMed: 11584793]
Cook WL, Kenny DA. The actor–partner interdependence model: A model of bidirectional effects in
developmental studies. International Journal of Behavioral Development. 2005; 29:101–109.
Carney M, Buttell F, Dutton D. Women who perpetrate intimate partner violence: A review of the
literature with recommendations for treatment. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 2007; 12:108–
115.
Costa DM, Babcock JC. Articulated thoughts of intimate partner abusive men during anger arousal:
Correlates with personality disorder features. Journal of Family Violence. 2008; 23:395–402.
Coxe S, West SG, Aiken LS. The analysis of count data: A gentle introduction to Poisson regression
and its alternatives. Journal of Personality Assessment. 2009; 91:121–136. [PubMed: 19205933]
Coyne JC. Toward an interactional description of depression. Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of
Interpersonal Processes. 1976; 39:28–40.
Derogatis LR, Cleary PA. Confirmation of the dimensional structure of the SCL-90: A study in
construct validation. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 1977; 33:981–989.
Feinberg ME, Jones DE, Kan ML, Goslin MC. Long-term outcomes of prevention for couples at the
transition of parenthood. Prevention Science. (in press).
Feinberg ME, Kan ML. Establishing Family Foundations: Intervention effects on coparenting, parent/
infant well-being, and parent-child relations. Journal of Family Psychology. 2008; 22:253–263.
[PubMed: 18410212]
Feinberg ME, Kan ML, Goslin M. Enhancing Coparenting, Parenting, and Child Self-Regulation at the
Transition to Parenthood: Effects of Family Foundations One Year after Birth. Prevention Science.
(in press).
Fincham FD, Bradbury TN. Assessing attributions in marriage: The Relationship Attribution Measure.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1992; 62:457–468. [PubMed: 1560337]
Fincham FD, Bradbury TN, Arias I, Byrne CA, Karney BR. Marital violence, marital distress, and
attributions. Journal of Family Psychology. 1997; 11:367–372.
Gordis EB, Margolin G, Vickerman K. Communication and frightening behavior among couples with
past and recent histories of physical marital aggression. American Journal of Community
Psychology. 2005; 36:177–191. [PubMed: 16134053]
Gordon KC, Friedman MA, Miller IW, Gaertner L. Marital attributions as moderators of marital
discord-depression link. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 2005; 24:876–893.
Heene ELD, Buysse A, Van Oost P. Indirect pathways between depressive symptoms and marital
distress: The role of conflict communication, attributions, and attachment style. Family Process.
2006; 44:413–440. [PubMed: 16433287]
Hilbe, JM. Negative Binomial Regression. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2007.
Holtzworth-Munroe A, Hutchinson G. Attributing negative intent to wife behavior: The attributions of
martially violent versus nonviolent men. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 1993; 102:206–211.
[PubMed: 8315133]
Marshall et al. Page 12
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Humbad MN, Donnellan MB, Iacono WG, Burt SA. Externalizing psychopathology and marital
adjustment in long-term marriages: Results from a large combined sample of married couples.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 2010; 119:151–162. [PubMed: 20141252]
Johnson MP. Patriarchal terrorism and common couple violence: Two forms of violence against
women. Journal of Marriage and the Family. 1995; 57:283–294.
Kahn J, Coyne JC, Margolin G. Depression and marital disagreement: The social destruction of
despair. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 1985; 2:447–462.
Karney BR, Bradbury TN. The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability: A review of theory,
method, and research. Psychological Bulletin. 1995; 118:3–34. [PubMed: 7644604]
Kenny, DA.; Kashy, DA.; Cook, WL. Dyadic Data Analysis. New York: Guilford Press; 2006.
Kim HK, Capaldi DM. The association of antisocial behavior and depressive symptoms between
partners at risk for aggression in romantic relationships. Journal of Family Psychology. 2004;
18:82–96. [PubMed: 14992612]
Kurdek L. Conflict resolution styles in gay, lesbian, heterosexual nonparent, and heterosexual parent
couples. Journal of Marriage and the Family. 1994; 56:705–722.
Maccoon DG, Newman JP. Content meets process: Using attributions and standards to inform
cognitive vulnerability in psychopathy, antisocial personality disorder, and depression. Journal of
Social and Clinical Psychology. 2006; 25:802–824.
Magdol L, Moffitt TE, Caspi A, Newman D, Fagan J, Silva PA. Gender differences in partner violence
in a birth cohort of 21-year-olds: Bridging the gap between clinical and epidemiological
approaches. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1997; 65:68–78. [PubMed: 9103736]
Muthén, LK.; Muthén, BO. Mplus User’s Guide. Sixth Edition. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén;
1998–2010.
Newton TL, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Glaser R, Malarkey WB. Conflict and withdrawal during marital
interaction: The roles of hostility and defensiveness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
1995; 21:512–524.
Norlander B, Eckhardt C. Anger, hostility, and male perpetrators of intimate partner violence: A meta-
analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review. 2005; 25:119–152. [PubMed: 15642644]
O’Leary KD, Slep AMS, O’Leary SG. Multivariate models of men’s and women’s partner aggression.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2007; 75:752–764. [PubMed: 17907857]
Radloff LS. The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population.
Applied Psychological Measurement. 1977; 1:385–401.
Schafer J, Caetano R, Clark CL. Rates of intimate partner violence in the United States. American
Journal of Public Health. 1998; 88:1702–1704. [PubMed: 9807541]
Schudlich TDR, Papp LM, Cummings EM. Relations of husbands’ and wives’ dysphoria to marital
conflict resolution strategies. Journal of Family Psychology. 2004; 18:171–183. [PubMed:
14992619]
Schumacher JA, Feldbau-Kohn S, Slep AMS, Heyman RE. Risk factors for male-to-female partner
physical abuse. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 2001; 6:281–352.
Slep AM, O'Leary SG. Parent and partner violence in families with young children: Rates, patterns,
and connections. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2005; 73:435–444. [PubMed:
15982141]
Straus MA, Hamby SL, Boney-McCoy S, Sugarman DB. The Revised Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS2):
Development and preliminary psychometric data. Journal of Family Issues. 1996; 17:283–316.
Straus MA, Stewart JH. Corporal punishment by American parents: National data on prevalence,
chronicity, severity, and duration, in relation to child and family characteristics. Clinical Child and
Family Psychology Review. 1999; 2:55–70. [PubMed: 11225932]
Stuart GL, Moore TM, Hellmuth JC, Ramsey SE, Kahler CW. Reasons for intimate partner violence
perpetration among arrested women. Violence Against Women. 2006; 12:609–621. [PubMed:
16777948]
Vaeth PAC, Ramisetty-Mikler S, Caetano R. Depression among couples in the United States in the
context of intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2010; 25:771–790.
[PubMed: 19520969]
Marshall et al. Page 13
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Whisman MA. Marital adjustment and outcome following treatments for depression. Journal of
Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2001; 69:125–129. [PubMed: 11302269]
Whisman MA, Uebelacker LA, Weinstock LM. Psychopathology and marital satisfaction: The
importance of evaluating both partners. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2004;
72:830–838. [PubMed: 15482041]
Whitaker DJ, Saltzman LS, Haileyesus T, Swahn M. Differences in frequency of violence and reported
injury between relationship with reciprocal and nonreciprocal intimate partner violence. American
Journal of Public Health. 2007; 97:941–947. [PubMed: 17395835]
Wingrove J, Bond AJ. Angry reactions to failure on a cooperative computer game: The effect of trait
hostility, behavioural inhibition, and behavioural activation. Aggressive Behavior. 1998; 24:27–
36.
Wisdom JP, Rees AM, Riley KJ, Weis TR. Adolescents’ perceptions of the gendered context of
depression: “Tough” boys and objectified girls. Journal of Mental Health Counseling. 2007;
29:144–162.
Wymbs BT, Pelham WE, Molina BSG, Gnagy EM, Wilson TK, Greenhouse JB. Rate and predictors
of divorce among parents of youths with ADHD. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
2008; 76:735–744. [PubMed: 18837591]
Marshall et al. Page 14
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Figure 1.
Proposed theoretical model for the actor-partner interdependence path analysis model.
“Enduring vulnerabilities” include antisocial behavior, hostility, and depression. IPV =
intimate partner violence; NRA = negative relationship attributions.
Marshall et al. Page 15
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Figure 2.
Results of the actor-partner interdependence path/hurdle models. All predictors of NRA and
IPV were tested for cross-partner paths. Values provided are regression coefficients for the
prediction of NRA and couple conflict, odds ratios for the prediction of IPV occurrence, and
incidence rate ratios for the prediction of IPV frequency. IPV = intimate partner violence;
NRA = negative relationship attributions.
* p < .05. ** p < .01.
Marshall et al. Page 16
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Marshall et al. Page 17
Table 1
Descriptive statistics and correlations among study variables.
Variable Mean (SD) Range 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Mean (SD) -- -- 64.49 (34.24) 18.24 (5.12) 2.07 (1.88) 0.53 (0.46)
0.47
#
(0.49) 2.78
#
(0.66) 2.23
#
(5.97)
Range -- -- 2.5 – 162.5 8.5 – 32 0 – 9 0 – 2.17 0 – 2.86 1 – 4.26 0 – 30
1. Family income 64.49 (34.24) 2.5 – 162.5 --
−.14
.04
−.30
**
−.26
**
.13
−.27
**
2. Couple conflict 18.24 (5.12) 8.5 – 32
−.14
-- .08
.45
**
.41
**
.33
**
.48
**
3. Antisocial behavior
4.46
#
(3.08)
0 – 14
−.18
*
.24
** .05 .03 .03 .03 .03
4. Hostility 0.59 (0.61) 0 – 3.17
−.26
**
.14
.13
.31
**
.57
**
.17
*
.36
**
5. Depression 0.27 (0.31) 0 – 1.43
−.20
*
.26
**
.25
**
.35
** .08
.17
*
.28
**
6. NRA 2.64 (0.59) 1 – 3.74 .12
.28
** .10
−.13
.02
.19
* .04
7. IPV perpetration 1.46 (4.91) 0 – 30
−.25
**
.36
**
.21
**
.24
**
.13
.14
.66
**
Notes: Data for women are above the diagonal and data for men are below the diagonal; inter-partner correlations are along the diagonal. Family income (reported in thousands) and couple conflict are the
average of partner reports, hence the data is the same for each partner. IPV = intimate partner violence; NRA = negative relationship attributions;
#
mean value is significantly higher than partner (p < .05);
p < .10.
*
p < .05.
**
p < .01.
J Fam Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.
... Similarly, depression amongst women was associated with male IPV. Couple conflict is also associated with greater IPV from both partners, which is why couples engaged in chronic fighting have higher rates of IPV (Marshall et al., 2011). Additional associations with IPV include cohabitation (as opposed to marriage), relationship dissatisfaction and negative emotionality/jealousy (Capaldi et al., 2012). ...
... Further, as male partners reported more IPV victimization, the likelihood of protected sex for both male and female partners decreased. IPV by women has been associated with depression among men (Marshall et al., 2011); depressive mood states have similarly been associated with decreased adherence to treatment (Hampanda, 2016). This likelihood of protected sex did not change with increased female partner reports of IPV victimization. ...
... In a study in the general population in South Africa also found that IPV victimization among men was associated with increased odds of sexual risk behavior (Peltzer et al., 2017). However, similar results have been found for women with IPV victimization in the general population (Peltzer et al., 2017), and depression and chronic fighting were similarly associated with women's victimization by IPV (Marshall et al., 2011). Interestingly, this study found no association between IPV victimization among women and protected sex, highlighting the importance of assessing male-and female-reported IPV. ...
Article
This study aimed to examine intimate partner violence (IPV) as it relates to both partners’ perceptions of IPV and sexual behaviors, considering how their IPV might be interdependent within the relationship dynamics. The sample consisted of 713 female–male dyads in which women were pregnant and living with HIV in rural South Africa. Using an actor-partner interdependence model (APIM), we examined the interdependent influence of psychological and physical IPV on men by their female partners and psychological and physical IPV on women by their male partners on sexual risk behavior. The APIM model found there were no actor (b = −0.06, SE = 0.05, p = .221) or partner (b = −1.2, SE = 0.06, p = .056) effects contributing to protected sex by female IPV victimization. In contrast, significant actor (b = −0.28, SE = 0.06, p < .001) and partner (b = −0.29, SE = 0.06, p < .001) effects for protection were related to male IPV victimization. The model also found that the covariate of female HIV disclosure was associated with both male (b = 0.5, SE = 0.12, p < .001) and female protected sexual intercourse (b = 0.58, SE = 0.1, p < .001). Female HIV disclosure was related to an increased likelihood of protected sex by both male and female partners. As male partners reported more IPV victimization, the likelihood of protected sex between male and female partners decreased.Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02085356.
... As seen in Supplementary Document #2, psychological and physical IPV perpetration were both extremely skewed (i.e., they contained a large amount of zero values and only a small amount of high frequency values). To address these skewed distributions, we followed existing studies in the area of interpersonal violence/aggression and utilized the hurdle approach to model the outcomes (Marshall et al., 2011). The hurdle approach includes dual model components that simultaneously estimate: (a) whether IPV perpetration occurs or not (i.e., the binary part), and (b) among those who reported nonzero IPV perpetration, whether the frequency is higher or lower (i.e., the continuous part; Hofmans, 2017;Marshall et al., 2011). ...
... To address these skewed distributions, we followed existing studies in the area of interpersonal violence/aggression and utilized the hurdle approach to model the outcomes (Marshall et al., 2011). The hurdle approach includes dual model components that simultaneously estimate: (a) whether IPV perpetration occurs or not (i.e., the binary part), and (b) among those who reported nonzero IPV perpetration, whether the frequency is higher or lower (i.e., the continuous part; Hofmans, 2017;Marshall et al., 2011). The hurdle approach can fully capture within-sample variability in IPV perpetration, which is theoretically warranted because both the occurrence (versus non-occurrence) and higher frequency of IPV perpetration both result in negative consequences for individuals (Kastello et al., 2016). ...
... The hurdle approach can fully capture within-sample variability in IPV perpetration, which is theoretically warranted because both the occurrence (versus non-occurrence) and higher frequency of IPV perpetration both result in negative consequences for individuals (Kastello et al., 2016). As another advantage, the hurdle approach can reflect potential differences in the predictors for the occurrence vs. the frequency of IPV perpetration (Marshall et al., 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
Accumulating evidence has been found for the associations from sexual minority stressors to intimate partner violence (IPV) among same-sex couples. Yet key gaps still exist, including the rare utilization of couple dyadic data, the understudied moderating and mediating mechanisms, and the few studies conducted during the transitional period of same-sex marriage legalization. To address these gaps, we used cross-sectional, dyadic data collected from 144 US same-sex couples during the 2014–2015 national campaign for the legalization of same-sex marriage. Guided by the systemic transactional model (STM), we examined associations from sexual minority stressors (including both internalized homophobia and discrimination) to same-sex IPV and tested whether commitment moderated or mediated these associations. Overall, we found evidence supporting the STM: (1) High internalized homophobia and discrimination were related to high prevalence and/or frequency of IPV perpetration; (2) high commitment attenuated positive associations between high discrimination and high prevalence and/or frequency of IPV perpetration; and (3) high internalized homophobia was related to low commitment, which in turn was related to high prevalence and/or frequency of IPV perpetration. Collectively, our study identified commitment as both a moderator and mediator in associations from sexual minority stressors to same-sex IPV. Further, the roles of commitment (i.e., moderator or mediator) depend on whether the focal sexual minority stressors are distal and more intermittent (i.e., heterosexist discrimination) or proximal and more constant (i.e., internalized homophobia).
... Numerous pre-pandemic studies have demonstrated that one of the strongest predictors of intimate partner violence is intense relationship conflict [13][14][15]. Additionally many recent studies indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased rates of intimate partner conflict [16,17]. For example, in a study of Belgian adults recruited via an online survey, Schokkenbroek et al. (2021) assessed five aspects of respondent's intimate relationships during the pandemic: increased conflict; diverging attitudes regarding relationship and life; restrictions; less connectedness; and neglect by partner. ...
... Contrary to expectation and numerous previous pre-pandemic research studies [13,15], there was no significant relationship between increased couple conflict and the self-reported occurrence of intimate partner violence among these participants. However, consistent with previous findings indicating high rates of IPV during the pandemic [10,16,17,32], the majority of these participants indicated that at least one act of intimate partner violence had occurred in their relationship during the pandemic (65.1%). ...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced couples to navigate illness-related stressors and unique public health responses, including extended lockdowns. This study focused on under-resourced North Carolina residents (n = 107) who self-reported changes in relationship conflict (Increased, Decreased, Stayed the Same) and intimate partner violence (IPV) during the pandemic. We expected high rates of increased conflict and IPV since the start of the pandemic. We then sought to determine the associations between dyadic changes in conflict and reports of IPV and pandemic-related experiences and responses. Participants completed a brief online survey assessing their demographics, COVID-19 exposure/stressors, and pandemic responses. As expected, reports of increased couple conflict were related to difficulties getting needed social support, loss of health insurance, more fear and worry, stress, pain, and greater use of alcohol and/or illicit drugs, related to the coronavirus. Participants reporting increased conflict were also more likely to be unemployed. Conversely, reports of decreased conflict were associated with being ill from the virus (48.9%), having health insurance, and working part time. Substantial amounts of IPV were reported (62.2% of the sample); however, increased conflict and IPV were unrelated. Those reporting No IPV were less likely to be receiving public assistance but more likely to have home responsibilities due to the virus. They also reported increased social interactions and less use of alcohol than those reporting IPV perpetration. Findings highlight key associations among pandemic experiences and responses, IPV, and couple functioning in an under-resourced sample. Efforts to facilitate coping, resilience, and tolerating uncertainty may facilitate cooperative and safe couple functioning throughout the pandemic.
... In most couples, violence appears to be mutual (Palmetto et al., 2013). Although there are cases of "intimate terrorism" which occur in the form of severe unilateral violence to control a partner, reciprocal "common couple violence" such as pushing, grabbing, and shoving appears to be more frequently found in violent couple relationships (Marshall et al., 2011). However, research on IPV in military couples has heavily focused on unidirectional, service member (typically male)-perpetrated IPV, overlooking the likelihood of nonservice member or female-perpetrated IPV as well as mutual IPV. ...
... Consistent with our assumption, our findings indicate that physical and verbal abuse in many military couples appeared to occur in the context of mutual violence, though because of data limitations we were only able to examine this relationship at the bivariate level. Unlike "intimate terrorism," which involves severe unilateral violence to control a partner, military spouses' physical and verbal IPV perpetration appeared to occur in the form of reciprocal "common couple violence" involving pushing, grabbing, shoving, and verbally insulting (Marshall et al., 2011). To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine IPV perpetration by the spouses of active-duty military service members. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective This study uses a stress process framework and person-centered methods to describe patterns of concurrent stressors across multiple domains and to associate patterns with female military spouse mental health. Background Most military families are resilient. However, a subset of military spouses experiences adverse outcomes in the context of war-related stress. To date, a focus on military-specific stressors has largely obscured the effects of stress unrelated to military service on the well-being of military spouses. Methods Data were drawn from a 2012 survey of 343 U.S. Army spouses, measuring intrapersonal (e.g., adverse childhood experiences), family (e.g., work–family conflict), and military stressors (e.g., cumulative deployments). Outcomes included moderate or more severe depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Results The three-step method of latent class analysis identified three classes: low (58.86% of participants), moderate (21.62%), and high (19.52%) stress. Prevalence of mental health problems was significantly elevated in the high-stress class. In this group, 35.3%, 36.3%, and 39.5% of spouses' screenings indicated at least moderate depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptomatology, compared with 3.0%, 3.9%, and 2.7% in the low-stress group. Conclusions Results suggest many military spouses have low stress exposure across domains and low rates of mental health symptoms. However, a subset of spouses may experience both intrapersonal and family-level risk associated with elevated rates of mental health problems. Implications Findings highlight the critical role of nonmilitary stressors in the lives of military spouses and the importance of assessing for and providing support to spouses around these issues.
... Although different types of IPV have shown somewhat different patterns of change over the first one-year time of the pandemic, the increased amount of severe IPV incidences and their destructive physical and psychological consequences should motivate both scholarly and professional work to focus on developing interventions and policies aiming to eliminate IPV. However, it is important to take caution when interpreting the changes in IPV exclusively as a result of the pandemic because several of the associations reported in the reviewed studies were documented in research prior to the pandemic as well (e.g., marital conflict and IPV; Marshall et al., 2011;Vives-Cases et al., 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID‐19 pandemic has affected nearly every area of daily life, including romantic relationships. With the pandemic still ongoing, this study reviewed the existing scholarly literature to document the status of empirical research on how COVID‐19 has affected couples during its first year. Studies were identified through searching five databases as well as sources of gray literature. Overall, 42 studies on committed romantic relationships during the first year of the pandemic were identified. The mapping process revealed four main themes: (1) relationship quality; (2) sexuality; (3) couple daily adjustment; and (4) intimate partner violence. The findings suggest that the way romantic relationships were affected by the pandemic depends on a variety of demographic, individual, and couple‐level factors. Implications include a call for both the development of evidence‐based interventions that consider the current findings and further research to continue exploring the clinical implications of future findings to promote healthy intimate relationships during the ongoing global pandemic.
... Second, irrespective of the observed differences between the two family structures, living in polygynous unions carries a risk because of the nature of such unions. For instance, the presence of many wives may create competition among women and breed intra-familial conflict, with implications for IPV (Marshall et al., 2011;Ickowitz & Mohanty, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
The structure of Ghanaian families has significantly changed over the years. Even so, some features of the traditional Ghanaian family have remained. For instance, polygynous families continue to be common. This study examined relationships between family structure and intimate partner violence among women in Ghana. Specifically, we investigated differences in the IPV experiences of women in polygynous families compared to those in monogamous families, and we explored the mechanisms linking polygyny with IPV. We used data on 2,289 ever-married Ghanaian women aged 18 years and above and applied random-effects logit models to determine differences in the IPV risks for women in the two family structures. A higher proportion of women in polygynous families were unemployed than their comparators in monogamous families, and they had lower levels of education. They had limited autonomy and strong patriarchal values and were significantly more likely to experience physical, sexual, and emotional/psychological violence. Their IPV risk was exacerbated by their lack of socio-economic empowerment, limited autonomy, and strong belief in patriarchal norms. Net of these factors, polygynous women were still disadvantaged, pointing to existing unobserved differences between the two family structures or differences in family dynamics, with implications for IPV. We propose that policy makers provide educational and employment opportunities for women in general, while targeting polygynous women with specific interventions to improve their self-efficacy and autonomy.
... These individual characteristics influence the way partners behave with each other and also shape their relationship (Kelley, 1979;Marshall et al., 2011). Behaviors have a huge role in affecting the quality of a relationship (Neff and Karney, 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
The ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presents an acute stressor affecting mental health. In these stressful times, intimate relationships functioning could serve as a protective or a risk factor to the well-being of partners. Adult Croatian citizens engaged in intimate relationships ( N = 727) reported their relationship characteristics and assessed symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress during the state lockdown in May 2020. Three relationship profiles based on variations in key relationship characteristics were identified using latent profile analysis. Profiles represented distinct relationship types described as affectionate, ambivalent, and antagonistic relationships. These relationship types differed in their levels of love and perception of humility, responsiveness, and behavior of the partner. Relationship type was associated with mental health symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and state lockdown. Being in an affectionate relationship was associated with the lowest levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, while in an antagonistic relationship these are in the highest levels. Ambivalent relationships were characterized by moderate levels on all measured mental health indicators with no difference in anxiety compared with affectionate relationships. The results emphasized the link between relationship functioning and successful coping with mental health hazards such as the fear of disease or restrictive measures put in place to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
... Likely a central factor in the success of closed-form questions was their selection based on previous domain knowledge about the two risks we explored: low mood and energy are two of the central symptoms of depression [52]. Similarly, 'relationship conflict' is a documented precursor to IPV [53]. Prior work has found that more direct questioning can lead to evasive responses [54], so the conflict question may have yielded honest responses because answers were not perceived as ascribing blame. ...
Article
Full-text available
During the perinatal period, psychosocial health risks, including depression and intimate partner violence, are associated with serious adverse health outcomes for birth parents and children. To appropriately intervene, healthcare professionals must first identify those at risk, yet stigma often prevents people from directly disclosing the information needed to prompt an assessment. In this research we use short diary entries to indirectly elicit information that could indicate psychosocial risks, then examine patterns that emerge in the language of those at risk. We find that diary entries exhibit consistent themes, extracted using topic modeling, and emotional perspective, drawn from dictionary-informed sentiment features. Using these features, we use regularized regression to predict screening measures for depression and psychological aggression by an intimate partner. Journal text entries quantified through topic models and sentiment features show promise for depression prediction, corresponding with self-reported screening measures almost as well as closed-form questions. Text-based features are less useful in predicting intimate partner violence, but topic models generate themes that align with known risk correlates. The indirect features uncovered in this research could aid in the detection and analysis of stigmatized risks.
Article
Full-text available
Compassion-focused therapy helps increase couples 'emotional security by regulating emotional systems, which can ultimately improve couples' attachment styles. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of compassion focused therapy (CFT) on attachment styles of couples with marital conflict. In this study, a single case design of asynchronous multiple baseline type was used. The statistical population of this study was married couples with marital conflict referring to Hamedan counseling centers. Accordingly, three couples who had marital conflict were selected by purposive sampling. Compassion-focused therapy was performed in three stages: baseline, intervention (8 sessions of 90 minutes), and follow-up, and couples responded to the Adult Attachment Style (Collins and Reed, 1990). Data analyzed with visuals inspection, improvement percentage and reliable change index (RCI) strategies. The results showed that the rate of improvement after treatment and follow-up is for secure attachment styles (36.33-33.93), avoidance (40.37-37) and anxiety (26.47-25.98), respectively. Therefore, the research findings indicate that compassion-focused therapy can be used as an effective treatment to improve the attachment styles of couples with marital conflict
Article
Research has shown that both gender and family socioeconomic status (SES) are important determinants of adolescents' physical activity (PA). This study expands our current knowledge by exploring the moderating role of family SES on gender differences in adolescents' out-of-school PA. We also examine whether this moderating effect varies across countries with different levels of gender inequality. Based on existing empirical studies and theoretical framework, it is hypothesized that 1) gender differences in out-of-school PA would be smaller among adolescents from higher SES families due to them being more likely to share egalitarian gender norms, and 2) this SES gradient in gender differences in adolescents' out-of-school PA would be more salient in countries with lower levels of gender inequality. A total of 316,657 15-year-old adolescents in 50 countries from the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey were analyzed. Our multilevel negative binomial regression models show that the gender gap in out-of-school PA is mitigated among families with higher SES, but this moderating role of family SES is less noticeable in countries with higher levels of national gender inequality. Our findings suggest the importance of egalitarian gender culture at both individual and macro-level in understanding gender disparities in adolescents’ PA.
Article
Full-text available
Psychopathic individuals' cognitive vulnerability consists of failing to attend to non-dominant cues (Gorenstein & Newman, 1980; Patterson & Newman, 1993). We argue that multiple attributions and standards are activated by a given situation in varying degrees and that attentional capacity is required to use non-dominant attributions or standards. Thus, constraints in processing moderate the content that underlies behavior. More specifically, we discuss how the process-based variable of dominance can inform understanding of aggression in Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) and negative affect in depression. Conversely, we use attributions and standards to clarify how the process-based cognitive vulnerability associated with psychopathy results in dysregulated violence, hostile attributions, lack of responsibility, and violation of standards. We conclude that the dimension of dominance, valuable in specifying the psychopathic cognitive vulnerability, has utility in elucidating other cognitive vulnerabilities and that the content-based models associated with aggression and depression lend specificity to process-based vulnerabilities.
Article
Gender-specific attributes and socialization influence the development of depression in adolescents, but little research has addressed adolescents' views on this topic. We interviewed 22 adolescents regarding their views on the impact of sex and gender role influence in depression. Male and female participants: (a) described societal expectations and cultural messages, including high and conflicting expectations for girls, and consistent messages of being "macho" and unemotional for boys, as related to adolescent depression; (b) perceived physical changes during puberty as contributors to depression for girls, but not for boys; and (c) associated loneliness and rejection with depression for both boys and girls. We discuss implications for treatment that include directly addressing gender roles with depressed adolescents.
Article
The prevailing behavioral account of marriage must be expanded to include covert processes. This article therefore examines the attributions or explanations that spouses make for marital events. A review indicates that dissatisfied spouses, compared with satisfied spouses, make attributions for the partner's behavior that cast it in a negative light. Experimental, clinical outcome, and longitudinal data suggest further that attributions may influence marital satisfaction. Rival hypotheses for these findings are examined. Because continued empirical development in this domain depends on conceptual progress, a framework is presented that integrates attributions, behavior, and marital satisfaction. This framework points to several topics that require systematic study, and specific hypotheses are offered for research on these topics. It is concluded that the promising start made toward understanding marital attributions holds considerable potential for enriching behavioral conceptions of marriage.
Article
This article argues that there are two distinct forms of couple violence taking place within families in the United States and other Western countries. A review of evidence from large-sample survey research and from qualitative and quantitative data gathered from women's shelters suggests that some families suffer from occasional outbursts of violence from either husbands or wives (common couple violence), while other families are terrorized by systematic male violence (patriarchal terrorism). It is argued that the distinction between common couple violence and patriarchal terrorism is important because it has implications for the implementation of public policy, the development of educational programs and intervention strategies, and the development of theories of interpersonal violence.
Article
Preliminary psychometric data are presented for two inventories that assess conflict in couples. The Ineffective Arguing Inventory (IAI) is a self-report measure that assesses a dysfunctional style of couple conflict resolution. The Conflict Resolution Style Inventory (CRSI) has complementary self-report and partner-report versions that assess four personal conflict resolution styles for each member of the couple. Subjects were both partners of 75 gay, 51 lesbian, 108 married nonparent, and 99 married parent couples. Findings for each inventory are presented regarding the factor structure of items, the internal consistency of composite scores, the 1-year stability of composite scores, the relation between couple members' composite scores, and the link between composite scores and relationship satisfaction, change in satisfaction, and relationship dissolution. Generally, results warrant further examination of the IAI and CRSI as measures of conflict for couples.
Article
Although much has been learned from cross-sectional research on marriage, an understanding of how marriages develop, succeed, and fail is best achieved with longitudinal data. In view of growing interest in longitudinal research on marriage, the authors reviewed and evaluated the literature on how the quality and stability of marriages change over time. First, prevailing theoretical perspectives are examined for their ability to explain change in marital quality and stability. Second, the methods and findings of 115 longitudinal studies—representing over 45,000 marriages—are summarized and evaluated, yielding specific suggestions for improving this research. Finally, a model is outlined that integrates the strengths of previous theories of marriage, accounts for established findings, and indicates new directions for research on how marriages change. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
How do couples with and without a depressed spouse cope with conflict? Seven couples in which the husband was depressed, seven in which the wife was depressed and fourteen in which neither was depressed completed measures of marital adjustment and typical conflict behaviour. Following a laboratory discussion, they completed measures of their recall of their own and their spouse's participation and the impact of their spouses on them. Reports by depressed persons and their spouses agreed in indicating that they engaged in less constructive problem-solving and more destructive behaviour. After the discussion they were sad and angry and experienced each other as hostile, competitive, mistrusting, detached, less agreeable, less nurturant and less affiliative than couples without a depressed member. This study contradicts clinical folklore depicting depressed persons as lacking in outwardly-directed hostility.
Article
Past research has indicated that attributions play a role in the development and maintenance of both depression and marital discord separately; however, few studies have examined how this construct may play a role in the robust relation between depression and marital discord. This study examined three models that may explain this link. First, this study tested two mediational models. One model examined whether attributions mediate the relation between marital distress and depression. The second model examined whether marital distress mediates the relation between marital attributions and depression. The third model examined whether marital attributions moderate the link between marital distress and depressive symptoms. 113 individuals from the community were administered measures of depression and marital functioning as part of a larger study on depression and marriage. Results supported the hypothesis that marital distress mediated the relationship between marital attributions and depression. The study also supported the hypothesis that responsibility attributions moderated the link between marital discord and depression; however, stability/globality attributions did not. Specifically, there was a significantly stronger correlation between marital discord and depression for individuals who made blame-oriented attributions about their partner's negative behaviors than for individuals who did not make blame-oriented attributions about their partner's behaviors. Finally, marital attributions did not mediate the relation between marital distress and discord. Implications for future research and treatment are discussed.
Article
The present study examined the hypothesis that hostile and defensive personality characteristics contribute to conflict and withdrawal within an important social relationship, marriage. A total of 90 newly wed couples participated in a videotaped discussion concerning areas of disagreement in their marriage. Couples' interactions were coded using the Marital Interaction Coding System (MICS), and codes were aggregated to assess conflict engagement and withdrawal. Among husbands, the combination of high levels of hostility and low levels of defensiveness was associated with a greater percentage of conflict. Among wives, this same personality pattern was associated with a greater percentage of withdrawal Both of these findings held after controlling for marital satisfaction, highlighting the importance of personality for social interactions. Moreover, the results support the tenability of Smith's psychosocial vulnerability model of personality and health, which posits that certain personality characteristics are associated with negative interpersonal consequences that may heighten vulnerability to illness.