Low Emotional Intelligence Levels in Men Increase Likelihood of Aggression

There are no outward signs that provide clues as to who will become violent and who will not. The indicators are more subtle and rarely emerge at first sight. But when two people get romantically involved, they discover much about one another and for many, one of these discoveries is the propensity for violence.

Intimate partner violence is perpetrated in equal rates by men and by women. But because men are generally stronger than women, men inflict more injuries, use more violence, and cause more deaths from IPV. Research in this area has focused on adverse childhood experiences (ACE) as risk factors for IPV perpetration. ACEs cover a broad spectrum of childhood maltreatment and traumas. Although not all trauma survivors go on to develop posttraumatic stress (PTSD), some do. Heightened aggression of PTSD has also been shown to increase IPV perpetration.

In order to view these two factors through a different lens, Rachael M. Swopes of the Department of Psychology at the University of Tulsa recently led a study examining ACEs and PTSD in a sample of 108 men with a history of IPV perpetration. Swopes also looked at emotional intelligence (EI) to see if it affected IPV outcomes.

The results of Swopes’ study revealed that ACEs were related to PTSD and specifically, aggression from PTSD. Men with PTSD who had low levels of EI were more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors and initiate IPV than those with PTSD and high EI. Intuition also increased the likelihood of aggression when compared to reasoning. In other words, men who had hunches about something in their relationships were more likely to behave with violence than those who rationally evaluated their situation before acting on their feelings.

Swopes believes that her study extends the existing body of research on IPV and ACEs and show the importance of addressing PTSD symptoms in their earliest stages. She added, “Trauma-exposed IPV offenders may benefit from comprehensive treatments focusing on PTSD symptoms, emotional control, and reasoning skills to reduce aggression.”

Swopes, Rachael M., M.S., et al. (2013). Adverse childhood experiences, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, and emotional intelligence in partner aggression. Violence and Victims 28.3 (2013): 513-30. ProQuest. Web.

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  • Randy

    July 11th, 2013 at 4:09 AM

    No surprise here

    can’t regulate those emotions and you find yourself being aggressive because that’s the only way that they know to feel a little more in control

    sad really that they don’t have this kind of intelligence because there sure are a lot of people who get hurt as a result

  • Ron

    July 12th, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    aggression and maltreatment are like communicable diseases in a sense…one becomes a victim and then becomes prone to inflicting the same on others…a deadly cycle that may not be possible to break with only determination but definitely wih a little psychological help.

  • Kendra

    July 12th, 2013 at 5:11 AM

    This is kind of bad, because there are times when someone puts on a really good face in the beginning, gets you sucked into that unhealthy relationship and before you know it you are now a victim.

    Sure would be much easier if you knew this about someone in the beginning before you got totally invested in the relationship. But that never really happens does it?


    July 13th, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    IS this why the workplace is now throwing around the ’emotional intelligence’ jargon?

    Emotional intelligence may make someone more violent but as long as that violence is not displayed or even shows then why worry at all?

    Is there a guarantee that those with high emotional intelligence will not get violent??

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