Category: Couples / Close Relationships
Keywords: Intimate Partner Aggression | Couples / Close Relationships | Translational Research
Presentation Type: Symposium
Interventions for partner aggression are based on the assumption that within-couple declines in aggression will enhance individual and relational outcomes. Furthermore, although partner aggression tends to be overrepresented among minority populations, most interventions have been developed using samples of White, middle-class couples, raising questions about the generalizability of findings across diverse contexts. Using 4 waves of data collected at 9-month intervals from a sample of 431 ethnically diverse, low-income couples, this study examined whether naturally observed within-couple changes in aggression improve individual and relational outcomes in the manner assumed by interventions. Actor-Partner-Interdependence Models indicated that baseline levels of aggression had limited effects on later outcomes (e.g., b’s ranging from -0.09 to 0.01 for husband and wife satisfaction, all ns). In contrast, after controlling for baseline levels, longitudinal decreases in aggression were beneficial, and increases in aggression proved costly. Specifically, couples who experienced increases in aggression worsened in their observed communication over time (e.g., b=0.25, p<.01 for husband aggression on husband negativity) and reported greater increases in stress (e.g., b=0.27, p<.01 for husband aggression on husband stress; b=0.24, p<.01 for husband aggression on wife stress). Furthermore, reports of stress and low satisfaction early in marriage predicted escalations in aggression over time (b=0.20, p<.01 for wife stress on husband change in aggression; b=0.19, p<.01 for wife stress on wife change in aggression; b=-0.20, p<.01 for wife satisfaction on husband change in aggression). The present results underscore that economically disadvantaged, culturally diverse couples are at particularly high risk for developing escalating patterns of aggression and thus should be the target of prevention efforts. Additionally, interventions could benefit from a particular focus on how patterns of aggression change over time, as couples whose aggression increases tend to be particularly vulnerable for a variety of detrimental outcomes.
Saturday, November 18
1:45 PM – 3:15 PM
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