Entries in relationship violence (10)

Tuesday
Dec152015

Romantic Relationship Aggression - It Looks Different Than You May Think

When many people think of relationship aggression they stereotypically think of men hitting women, like the much publicized videotape of ex-NFL player Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancée, Janay, in an elevator in 2014. Observable forms of aggression such as this have helped shape our society's view of relationship aggression as being limited to physical violence primarily performed by men against women.

Since the majority of research on conflict and aggression in relationships has focused on the overt and observable forms of aggression, we know very little about the less visible forms of relationship conflict.1 Although boys are typically more physically aggressive than girls, what researchers have been discovering is that girls perform more non-physical forms of relationship aggression, like spreading negative rumors about their partner or excluding them from social circles.

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Monday
Jul202015

Debunking 6 Myths About Men, Women, and Their Relationships

When it comes to the behavior of men and women in relationships, almost everyone has an opinion—and usually, it's about how the sexes are different. But what does the research tell us about how men and women really behave in romantic relationships? Often, that they're more alike than we think, and that our common assumptions are wrong. 

Let’s examine six common myths...

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Wednesday
Apr302014

The Dark Side of Oxytocin

Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes bonding during the early stages of relationship development, positive feelings toward relationship partners1, including feelings of trust.2  In fact, oxytocin has been implicated in a variety of positive relationship behaviors, including attachment, social memory, sexual behavior, and orgasm, as well as maternal caring and bonding behaviors.3 As a result, the media often refers to oxytocin as the “cuddle hormone.” However, recent research suggests that the so-called “cuddle hormone” may have a dark side by increasing relationship violence.

How They Did It

Researchers randomly assigned 93 undergraduate students to receive a nasal spray containing either (a) oxytocin or (b) a saline solution (i.e., a placebo spray). Importantly, the administration of the spray was double-blind; neither the researcher nor the participant knew which spray the participant was receiving.  Following the spray, researchers provoked participants in an attempt to raise stress levels and establish a context for aggression. The provocations involved giving a brief speech to an audience who disagreed with the speech and experiencing a “cold pressor task” in which extreme cold is applied to the participant’s forehead (resulting in moderate physical pain).  Participants then completed a measure of trait aggression (i.e., how much the person is naturally inclined toward aggression) as well as a measure of how likely individuals were to be aggressive toward their partners that asked about the likelihood of engaging in several behaviors toward their romantic partners (e.g., throwing things, twisting their arm/hair, shoving). 

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Monday
Mar312014

What’s a Parent To Do?: Raising Teens to Having Healthy Relationships

One of the more alarming trends in the adolescent and young adult dating world over the past few decades is the increase in reports of dating violence. Specifically, more than 50% of adolescents with dating experience report some past dating violence, whether as perpetrator or victim.1 Moreover, today’s adolescent dating violence, which often results from conflicts that get out of hand, generally shows no gender bias: both young women and young men are equally likely to perpetrate (and be victims). When it comes to public health issues, the prevalence of teen dating violence is a pretty big deal, which is why the Centers for Disease Control has an entire section of their website dedicated to educating people about healthy teen relationships, and researchers are giving considerable attention to the issue.

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Tuesday
Sep112012

Two’s Company. But Is It Necessarily Bad Company?

Last week we were fortunate to publish a post on cohabitation guest-authored by two of the foremost experts on the topic. Their research addresses one of the more controversial and hotly-debated patterns of findings in the relationship science world: the marriages of couples that live together (cohabit) before tying the knot often fare worse than the marriages of couples that do not cohabit prior to marrying (commonly referred to as “the cohabitation effect”). There are a number of possible explanations for this effect, (and remember, correlation does not equal causation), but the purpose of this follow-up post is not to dig into those explanations (for now). Rather, I want to put the authors’ key conclusion in context for all those who might be second-guessing their decision to shack up after reading this post.

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Monday
Sep102012

“Insanimus Guano,” Stalking, and How to Deal with Unstable Ex-partners

My friend Jessica just broke up with her boyfriend of 6 months. Why? Her boyfriend’s ex-wife went crazy after finding out he was dating someone new; she created a scene in front of his house that ultimately required him to call the police to get her to leave his property. Suffice it to say, my friend did not want to be involved with someone who brought so much baggage to the table.

I understood all too well. Sadly, many of my closest friends have had similar experiences. A few of my favorite gems (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

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Tuesday
Mar202012

Another Reason to Avoid Narcissists

image source: squidoo.comJust in case you need another reason to avoid dating narcissists: In a sample of nearly 300 men, those scoring high on narcissism, high on psychopathy (e.g., irresponsibility, low empathy, antisocial behavior), and with an unrestricted sociosexual orientation (e.g., the belief that love and sex are separate) were three times as likely (45%) to report engaging in sexual aggression (e.g., sexual assault and rape) compared to those low on these three traits (15%).

Mouilso, E. R., & Calhoun, K. S. (2011). A mediation model of the role of sociosexuality in the associations between narcissism, psychopathy, and sexual aggression. Psychology of Violence, 2, 16-27.

Thursday
Nov102011

A Cold Embrace: “Twilight” and Relationship Violence

In the past decade, the rise in popularity of vampire-themed books and movies for young adults has risen dramatically. While superficially vampires make for some good nail-biting fun in the Halloween season, they can send some unfortunate messages to the young people who love them. In this article, I argue that the popular Twilight series can be used to highlight patterns of behavior that put individuals at risk for abuse in dating relationships.

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Thursday
Sep082011

Relationship Aggression is Not Forgivable

Forgiving partners when they make benign mistakes like forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning is good. Forgiving serious negative behaviors, such as relationship aggression, can have unfortunate consequences. In a recent study, newlyweds were tracked for four years. Men and women who were more forgiving, in general, experienced continued physical and psychological aggression across the course of their marriage whereas less forgiving partners experienced reduced aggression. Forgiveness may reinforce negative relationship behaviors like violence. 

McKnulty, J. K. (2011). The dark side of forgiveness: The tendency to forgive predicts continued psychological and physical aggression in marriage. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 770-783.

Tuesday
Apr052011

A Link Between Controlling Partners and Relationship Violence

Data from 600 young women reveals that most (68%) experienced a relationship partner's controlling behavior; approximately 10% experienced sexual or physical victimization while 25% were were prevented from seeing friends or were ignored by the partner. Women experiencing controlling behaviors were 2.5 times less likely to honestly report relationship violence.

Catallozzi, M., Simon, P. J., Davidson, L. L., Breitbart, V., & Rickert, V. I. (2011). Understanding control in adolescent and young adult relationships. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 165, 313-319.