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Model for Predicting Dating Violence: Anxious Attachment, Angry Temperament and Need for Relationship Control

NCJ Number
Violence and Victims Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2002 Pages: 35-47
Diane R. Follingstad; Rebekah G. Bradley; Cynthia M. Helff; James E. Laughlin
Date Published
13 pages
The focus of this research study was to test a model that incorporated anxious attachment, angry temperament, and attempts to control a significant other and then see if it predicted the severity and frequency of dating violence among 422 college students.
The study was an additional look at dating violence and how it differed from marital violence. Since the early 1980's, researchers concluded that dating violence might be due to different factors than domestic violence between a married or cohabiting couple. Research conducted with male batterers had suggested developmental models that might prove useful in understanding the influence of early childhood experiences. Specifically, early attachment difficulties can cause young children to be hypersensitive to abandonment cues or rejection in adult romantic relationships. This anxiety is then translated into anger and/or controlling behaviors as a way for regaining control over the relationship. Previous research showed that attempts to control a partner were an indicator of future physical violence. Structural equation modeling is a statistical technique used that evaluates the relationship between the variables being studied that results in a strong statement regarding causality (versus correlational analysis). Data analyzed showed causal relationships among the variables that led to dating violence. An angry temperament was related to anxious attachment, and in turn, this would result in attempts to control one's partner. Given that this study was exploratory, the results need to be replicated and the relationships between the variables confirmed. Future research could determine if there is a direct relationship between anxious attachment and controlling one's partner.