Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Moore, Todd M. Jr. Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-3998-215337 Title Attributions of Negative Intent and Responsibility and Anger Arousal of Abusive and Nonabusive Males to Perceived Negative Dating Partner Behavior Degree Master of Science Department Psychology Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Eisler, Richard M. Committee Chair Franchina, Joseph J. Committee Member Harrison, David W. Committee Member Keywords
- Dating Abuse
- Anger Arousal
Date of Defense 1998-04-07 Availability unrestricted AbstractAttributions of Negative Intent and Responsibility and
Anger Arousal of Abusive and Nonabusive Males to Perceived
Negative Dating Partner Behavior
Todd M. Moore
Research on marital abuse indicates that abusive husbands
attribute greater negative intent and responsibility to
their partner's behavior and report greater anger arousal
during conflictual situations with their partner than do
nonabusive husbands (Dutton & Browning, 1988;
Holtzworth-Munroe & Hutchinson, 1993). Research also shows
that measures of anger arousal (e.g., blood pressure and
heart rate) are significantly greater during situations of
provocation or threat than neutral or nonprovocative
situations (Smith & Allred, 1989). However, research has
not attempted to measure abusive and nonabusive males'
anger arousal and cognitive attributions to provocative and
nonprovocative partner behavior in conflictual situations.
Two studies examined attributional responses and one study
examined anger arousal in high and low abusive dating males
to highly provocative (e.g., girlfriend is flirting with
another man) or minimally provocative (e.g., girlfriend
wants to talk) partner behavior. A major hypothesis was
that abusive males would attribute greater negative intent
and responsibility as well as evidence greater blood
pressure and heart rate reactivity to their partner's
behavior in provocative but not in nonprovocative
situations than would nonabusive males.
In Study 1, six hypothetical vignettes (4 provocative
and 2 nonprovocative) of dating situations were developed
or modified from existing research (Holtzworth-Munroe &
Hutchinson, 1993). Provocativeness of the situations was
determined through pilot testing which showed that
"provocative partner behavior" yielded significantly
greater attributions of negative intent and responsibility
than did nonprovocative partner behavior. Undergraduate
males (N = 106) were assessed for their levels of abusive
relationship behaviors with the Conflict Tactics Scale
(CTS; Straus 1979), for their tendencies to abuse with the
Propensity for Abuse Scale (PAS; Dutton, 1995b), and for
their expression of anger with the State-Trait Anger
Expression Inventory (STAXI; Spielberger, Johnson, Russell,
Crane, Jacobs, & Worden, 1985). Participants then listened
to audio-taped situations and completed negative intent and
responsibility attribution questionnaires.
Results indicated that high CTS, PAS, and STAXI males
attributed greater responsibility and blame to partner
behavior in provocative scenes, but not in nonprovocative
scenes than did low CTS, PAS, and STAXI males (p < .05).
Additionally, high CTS, PAS, and STAXI males attributed
greater negative intent to partner behavior in both
provocative and nonprovocative scenes than did low CTS,
PAS, and STAXI males (p < .05). There were no interaction
effects for attributions of negative intent and
responsibility based on dispositional measures and scene
In Study 2, undergraduate males (N = 107) were
screened for abusive relationship behaviors with the CTS.
Screening identified 37 males as High-Abusives (n=18) and
Low-Abusives (n = 19). Participants selected in the
screening phase were called back and fitted with a
blood-pressure cuff which recorded blood pressure and
heart rate before and after each of four scenes (2
provocative and 2 nonprovocative). Following presentation
of the scenes, participants completed negative intent and
responsibility attribution questionnaires.
Results indicated that both High- and Low-Abusives evidenced
significantly greater systolic blood pressure arousal during
provocative as compared to nonprovocative scenes (p<.05).
Similar to Study 1, results showed that High-Abusives
attributed greater negative intent and responsibility to
partner behavior than did Low-Abusives (p <.05). However,
blood-pressure and heart rate reactivity of High- and
Low-Abusives were not significantly discrepant.
The results of Studies 1 and 2 demonstrated that
High-Abusives attributed greater negative intent and
responsibility to partner behavior than did Low-Abusives.
Study 2 also showed that provocative partner behavior
produced greater increases in systolic blood pressure than
nonprovocative partner behavior for both High- and
Low-Abusives. Overall, these studies provided partial
empirical support for the relationship between negative
attributions and anger arousal to provocative partner
behavior among abusive and nonabusive males. Limitations
and future research directions will be discussed.
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