Category: Violence / Aggression

PS4- #C87 - Within-Couple Alcohol Use Disparity and Intimate Partner Aggression: Relationship Commitment as a Protective Factor

Friday, Nov 17
12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Intimate Partner Aggression | Alcohol | Couples / Close Relationships

Previous research suggests that intimate partners who use alcohol dissimilarly may be at heightened risk for intimate partner aggression (IPA). However, given that not all couples with disparate drinking habits experience IPA, it is important to examine potential protective factors. Using the I3 (“I-cubed”) model as a framework, we examined within-couple discrepancies in alcohol use as an impellor and relationship commitment as an inhibitor of IPA perpetration for male and female partners. Consistent with the I3 model, we predicted that greater discrepancies in alcohol use would predict higher frequency of IPA perpetration for individuals low in commitment, but not for those high in commitment. We made no specific hypothesis regarding gender differences of this effect.


Participants in the current study included five hundred and ninety heterosexual couples in which at least one partner reported a prior history of IPA perpetration and heavy alcohol use. Couples completed several self-report measures as part of a larger study investigating alcohol-facilitated IPA, including the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, and Investment Model Scale. We used ordinary least squares linear regression to test the effects of discrepant alcohol use, relationship commitment, and their interaction on IPA perpetration for male and female partners separately. For both male and female partners, we found a significant main effect of discrepant alcohol use on IPA, such that higher discrepancies predicted greater IPA frequency (p < .001). There was also a significant main effect of relationship commitment on IPA for both males and females, such that higher commitment predicted lower IPA frequency (p < .05 and p < .001, respectively). The effect of discrepant alcohol use on IPA was qualified by a significant interaction between discrepant use and commitment for male partners only (p < .05). To clarify this interaction, we examined the effect of discrepancy on IPA among men high (+1 SD) and low (-1 SD) in commitment. Discrepant alcohol use predicted IPA more strongly for men low in commitment (β = .24, p < .001) than for those high in commitment (β= .09, p < .05). These results suggest that for men but not women, the inhibiting nature of relationship commitment may buffer against the potential aggressogenic effects of within-couple disparities in drinking patterns. 

Andrea A. Massa

Graduate Student
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana

Joel G. Sprunger

Predoctoral Fellow
Purdue University

Molly A. Maloney

Graduate Student
Purdue University

Christopher I. Eckhardt

Purdue University

Dominic J. Parrott

Georgia State University