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Journal Article


Davidovic A, Bell K, Ferguson C, Gorski E, Campbell A. J. Interpers. Violence 2011; 26(15): 3098-3126.


(Copyright © 2011, SAGE Publishing)






The finding of symmetry in intimate partner aggression is now generally accepted, but the convergence of male and female rates in these relationships remains unexplained. From qualitative analysis of male and female focus group discussions, we identified factors believed to influence the expression of aggression toward targets differing in sex and degree of intimacy. These factors were then used to construct a questionnaire in which 355 respondents indicated the applicability of the items to conflicts with a partner, a same-sex friend, and an opposite-sex friend. Principal component analysis revealed a clear two-factor structure of impelling forces (tending to provoke or initiate aggression) and inhibitory forces (tending to suppress or diminish the likelihood of aggression). Participants' scores on scales derived from these two factors were used in the subsequent analyses. Men reported lower inhibition and greater impulsion toward same-sex friends than to female friends and partners, who did not differ significantly from one another. Women showed lower inhibition to male targets, regardless of relationship, than to a female target. However, women rated their male partners as significantly higher on impelling forces than their male friends, who in turn were rated significantly higher than female friends. The results are broadly consistent with a sex-of-target effect corresponding to a chivalry norm held by both sexes that inhibits the expression of aggression toward women. The reasons why women are especially impelled to aggression by intimate partners are explored. Disaggregating the dynamics of interpersonal conflict into impelling and inhibitory components may prove useful in understanding and treating dispute escalation and resolution.

Language: en


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