Date of Graduation

5-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Patricia Petretic

Committee Member

Jeffrey M. Lohr

Second Committee Member

Ellen W. Leen-Feldner

Keywords

Psychology, Acceptance, Childhood abuse, Dating violence, Victimization, Witnessing interparental violence

Abstract

Dating violence is a worldwide problem (Straus, 2004). The majority of empirical studies and conceptual models of dating violence have focused on perpetration, and examined the impact of prior exposure, positing an intergenerational transmission model. More recently, researchers have examined the influence of other moderating and mediating variables and hypothesized that attitudes, such as acceptance of dating violence, are an important variable to examine (Flynn & Graham, 2010; Lichter & McCloskey, 2004). Focusing on victimization, this study attempted to assess the applicability of the intergenerational hypothesis (previous exposure to violence, such as witnessing interparental abuse and childhood abuse) as well as the impact of the attitudinal variable of acceptance of dating violence, to determine if prior exposure or acceptance place women at increased risk for dating violence victimization. A sample of 189 college women was recruited to respond to an online survey. The hypothesized effect that previous exposure to any type of prior violence would predict physical victimization in a dating relationship was not supported. Follow up analyses showed an effect for more specific exposure, such that prior physical violence predicted physical victimization. Similarly, acceptance of any type of dating violence was not a significant predictor of physical victimization, while acceptance of physical violence increased the likelihood of being a victim of physical violence, especially acceptance of female perpetrated physical violence. Acceptance did not mediate the relation between childhood exposure and dating violence victimization. Similar results were found for exposure to sexual and psychological violence, acceptance, and dating violence victimization. Lastly, there was a significant positive correlation between victimization and perpetration indicating that most female victims of dating violence also endorse perpetration. This study is an important extension of existing research models of dating violence, adding to our understanding of the relation between acceptance of dating violence and victimization.

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