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Effects of Trait Anger and Negative Attitudes Towards Women on Physical Assault in Dating Relationships

NCJ Number
Journal of Family Violence Volume: 18 Issue: 5 Dated: October 2003 Pages: 301-307
Dominic J. Parrott; Amos Zeichner
Date Published
October 2003
7 pages
This study examined the combined effect of "trait" anger and negative attitudes toward women (hostility toward women and calloused sexual beliefs) on the frequency of physical aggression in premarital relationships.
Eckhardt et al. (1997) has suggested that researchers conceptualize anger as both an emotional state (i.e., "state" anger) and as a personality trait (i.e., "trait" anger) in accordance with the work of Spielberger et al. (1983). Whereas "state" anger is the physioaffective condition that occurs in the present moment, "trait" anger refers to the enduring personality trait of anger proneness. Persons with "trait" anger are very ready to detect aggression, threats, and dangers in the world around them, such that they have a stable dispositional characteristic of anger. In assessing the effect of "trait" anger and negative attitudes toward women on the frequency of violent behavior in premarital relationships, this study recruited 263 college-aged men who reported that they were either currently involved in a romantic relationship or had been involved in at least 1 romantic relationship during the past 12 months. Participants completed a battery of questionnaires, including the Conflict Tactics Scale-2, Trait Anger Scale, Hostility Towards Women Scale, and the Hypermasculinity Inventory. Correlational analyses found that "trait" anger, hostility toward women, and calloused sexual beliefs were positively associated with the frequency of physical assault in a premarital relationship. Further, hierarchical regression analyses found that both hostility toward women and calloused sexual beliefs moderated the relationship between "trait" anger and the frequency of physical assault, such that in men who had more negative attitudes toward women, higher levels of "trait" anger led to increased frequency of physical assault on romantic partners. These results provide initial empirical support for the role of "trait" anger in dating violence and suggest that there is a subgroup among premaritally violent males who have negative attitudes toward women and also have a strong tendency to manifest intense levels of anger. 1 table, 2 figures, and 40 references