Title page for ETD etd-3998-215337


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Moore, Todd M. Jr.
Author's Email Address tomoore2@vt.edu
URN etd-3998-215337
Title Attributions of Negative Intent and Responsibility and Anger Arousal of Abusive and Nonabusive Males to Perceived Negative Dating Partner Behavior
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Eisler, Richard M. Committee Chair
Franchina, Joseph J. Committee Member
Harrison, David W. Committee Member
Keywords
  • Dating Abuse
  • Anger Arousal
  • Attributions
Date of Defense 1998-04-07
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Attributions of Negative Intent and Responsibility and

Anger Arousal of Abusive and Nonabusive Males to Perceived

Negative Dating Partner Behavior

by

Todd M. Moore

Abstract

Research on marital abuse indicates that abusive husbands

attribute greater negative intent and responsibility to

their partner's behavior and report greater anger arousal

during conflictual situations with their partner than do

nonabusive husbands (Dutton & Browning, 1988;

Holtzworth-Munroe & Hutchinson, 1993). Research also shows

that measures of anger arousal (e.g., blood pressure and

heart rate) are significantly greater during situations of

provocation or threat than neutral or nonprovocative

situations (Smith & Allred, 1989). However, research has

not attempted to measure abusive and nonabusive males'

anger arousal and cognitive attributions to provocative and

nonprovocative partner behavior in conflictual situations.

Two studies examined attributional responses and one study

examined anger arousal in high and low abusive dating males

to highly provocative (e.g., girlfriend is flirting with

another man) or minimally provocative (e.g., girlfriend

wants to talk) partner behavior. A major hypothesis was

that abusive males would attribute greater negative intent

and responsibility as well as evidence greater blood

pressure and heart rate reactivity to their partner's

behavior in provocative but not in nonprovocative

situations than would nonabusive males.

In Study 1, six hypothetical vignettes (4 provocative

and 2 nonprovocative) of dating situations were developed

or modified from existing research (Holtzworth-Munroe &

Hutchinson, 1993). Provocativeness of the situations was

determined through pilot testing which showed that

"provocative partner behavior" yielded significantly

greater attributions of negative intent and responsibility

than did nonprovocative partner behavior. Undergraduate

males (N = 106) were assessed for their levels of abusive

relationship behaviors with the Conflict Tactics Scale

(CTS; Straus 1979), for their tendencies to abuse with the

Propensity for Abuse Scale (PAS; Dutton, 1995b), and for

their expression of anger with the State-Trait Anger

Expression Inventory (STAXI; Spielberger, Johnson, Russell,

Crane, Jacobs, & Worden, 1985). Participants then listened

to audio-taped situations and completed negative intent and

responsibility attribution questionnaires.

Results indicated that high CTS, PAS, and STAXI males

attributed greater responsibility and blame to partner

behavior in provocative scenes, but not in nonprovocative

scenes than did low CTS, PAS, and STAXI males (p < .05).

Additionally, high CTS, PAS, and STAXI males attributed

greater negative intent to partner behavior in both

provocative and nonprovocative scenes than did low CTS,

PAS, and STAXI males (p < .05). There were no interaction

effects for attributions of negative intent and

responsibility based on dispositional measures and scene

provocativeness.

In Study 2, undergraduate males (N = 107) were

screened for abusive relationship behaviors with the CTS.

Screening identified 37 males as High-Abusives (n=18) and

Low-Abusives (n = 19). Participants selected in the

screening phase were called back and fitted with a

blood-pressure cuff which recorded blood pressure and

heart rate before and after each of four scenes (2

provocative and 2 nonprovocative). Following presentation

of the scenes, participants completed negative intent and

responsibility attribution questionnaires.

Results indicated that both High- and Low-Abusives evidenced

significantly greater systolic blood pressure arousal during

provocative as compared to nonprovocative scenes (p<.05).

Similar to Study 1, results showed that High-Abusives

attributed greater negative intent and responsibility to

partner behavior than did Low-Abusives (p <.05). However,

blood-pressure and heart rate reactivity of High- and

Low-Abusives were not significantly discrepant.

The results of Studies 1 and 2 demonstrated that

High-Abusives attributed greater negative intent and

responsibility to partner behavior than did Low-Abusives.

Study 2 also showed that provocative partner behavior

produced greater increases in systolic blood pressure than

nonprovocative partner behavior for both High- and

Low-Abusives. Overall, these studies provided partial

empirical support for the relationship between negative

attributions and anger arousal to provocative partner

behavior among abusive and nonabusive males. Limitations

and future research directions will be discussed.

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