Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Gregory L. Stuart

Committee Members

Lowell Gaertner, Patricia Roberson, Michael A. Olson


Interpersonal aggression, including that directed toward intimate partners (i.e., dating violence) and non-intimate persons, is a serious problem. Research demonstrated that self-reported attitudes supportive of violence positively related to self-reported interpersonal aggression and dating violence. The present studies expand upon the existing literature by examining how implicitly assessed attitudes regarding the self and aggression related to a laboratory paradigm of interpersonal aggression (Study 1) and dating violence (Study 2). Correlates of aggression, including impulsivity and the Dark Triad personality traits of Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy were examined to see if they interacted with implicitly assessed attitudes to predict aggression. Across both studies, it was hypothesized that individuals with stronger self-aggressive implicitly assessed attitudes would perpetrate more aggression, and that this would be stronger for individuals high on impulsivity and the Dark Triad traits. Individual college students were recruited to participant in Study 1 (N = 197) and dating couples were recruited to participate in Study 2 (N = 100 [50 dating couples]). Contrary to expectations, in Study 1 participants with stronger other-aggressive implicitly assessed attitudes perpetrated more aggression. Narcissism and psychopathy, but not Machiavellianism or impulsivity, related to aggression and these relations were influenced by provocation. In Study 2, implicitly assessed attitudes were not significantly related to dating violence. Further, impulsivity and psychopathy, but not Machiavellianism or narcissism, positively related to aggression. Additionally, in Study 2, participants completed daily surveys examining psychological and physical aggression for 30 consecutive days following the baseline session. I hypothesized that baseline laboratory aggression and self-aggressive implicitly assessed attitudes would predict future dating violence. Hypotheses were partially supported. Self-aggressive implicitly assessed attitudes did not predict future dating violence, and baseline laboratory aggression only predicted future physical and not psychological dating violence. Findings indicate there are important individual and contextual differences that may enhance our understanding of interpersonal aggression and dating violence. Such considerations are relevant to prevention and intervention programming. Limitations of the present studies and directions for future research based on these limitations are discussed.

Available for download on Sunday, August 15, 2027

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