Young adult relationships can be complex and chaotic. Adolescents and emerging adults who are in committed relationships are just beginning to identify their own strengths and weaknesses and often are vulnerable to emotional uncertainty. They may try to reconcile their own beliefs about relationships with those of their partner, which can lead to challenges and even aggression. Better understanding the mechanisms at work in these relationships could help provide insight into the causes of physical and psychological aggression and perhaps offer ways to prevent or reduce them.
Erica M. Woodin of the Department of Psychology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia wanted to explore what factors led to dating violence and aggression in young people and more specifically, how attitudes toward aggression and depression affected violent behavior. Using a sample of 65 college-aged couples, Woodin classified 23 couples as very aggressive, 27 couples as moderately aggressive, and 15 as nonaggressive.
She found that the very aggressive couples had high rates of female depression, female dissatisfaction in the relationship, low relationship bonds, and high levels of aggressive condoning among the male partners. In the 50 couples with physical aggression, depression in females led to lower relationship bonds and higher aggression.
Woodin also noticed that although condoning aggression was a predictor of male aggressive behavior, depression in females predicted female psychological aggression. This was the case even among women who stringently opposed aggression. Woodin believes that depressed women may view their environment and their relationship through a negative lens which causes them to react to skewed negative perceptions with distorted emotional reactions, including psychological aggression.
These findings provide new insight into just how perceptions, attitudes and emotions work together to affect aggression in relationships. “We believe that the key implication for prevention and intervention that emerges from these findings is that the relationship context matters in young adult relationships,” added Woodin. Future work should explore how focusing on context can reduce aggression, especially for couples experiencing depression.
Woodin, Erica M., Valerie Caldeira, and K. Daniel O’Leary. (2013). Dating aggression in emerging adulthood: Interactions between relationship processes and individual vulnerabilities. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 32.6 (2013): 619-50.ProQuest. Web.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.