Scholarly Communications Project

Predictors of Male Violence in Dating Relationships


Allison Clifford Jeffrey

Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Tech in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Masters of Science




Ellie T. Sturgis, Ph.D., Chair
Richard M. Eisler, Ph.D.
Sigrid B. Gustafson, Ph.D.

December 16, 1996
Blacksburg, Virginia


Dating violence among college students has become a pressing concern. However, to date, the bulk of the research in this area has attempted to discern correlates of marital violence. Little research has been paid to the isolation of predictors of violence that occurs early in the relationship. This paper demonstrates the utility of several risk factors identified among male college students in predicting dating violence. Factors included are history of abuse in the family of origin; insecure attachment style as measured by parental attachment and girlfriend attachment; attributional style; anger; and depression. Though it is likely that many other factors predict male dating violence, this study aims to isolate those factors that operate within the framework of history of abuse and insecure attachment. Results indicated the following: 1. History of abuse accounted for a substantial portion of the variance in predicting dating violence. 2. The interaction of attachment to family and partner was related to verbal aggression and abuse toward and from the partner. 3. Attributional style did not significantly predict dating violence beyond history of abuse. 4. Depression was not significantly related to dating violence; however, anger was significantly and directly related to verbal aggression and overall abuse from self toward partner. 5. Results were also discussed in terms of the four abuse criteria, including some notable findings regarding partner attachment style and direction of abuse. In addition, implications for treatment and prevention and suggestions for future research were offered.

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