Title

Neuroticism, Marital Violence, and the Moderating Role of Stress and Behavioral Skills

Date of Award

5-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Kristina Coop Gordon

Committee Members

James K. McNulty, Todd M. Moore

Abstract

Do high levels of neuroticism predict intimate partner violence (IPV)? Although neuroticism may predispose partners to increased risks of IPV perpetration, the extent to which it predicts such perpetration is likely to depend on the broader context of the relationship. Consistent with this prediction, the current longitudinal study of 169 community couples revealed that the effects of neuroticism on IPV perpetration over the first four years of marriage were moderated by observations of problem-solving behavior and objective ratings of chronic stress. Specifically, although husbands and wives who scored higher on a measure of neuroticism at the outset of marriage engaged in more IPV throughout the marriage on average, those who possessed more effective problem-solving skills or experienced lower levels of stress were significantly less like to engage in IPV. Results highlight the importance of considering the broader relationship context when examining predictors of specific interpersonal processes.

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