One-sided and mutually aggressive couples: Differences in attachment, conflict prevalence, and coping
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SourceChild Abuse & Neglect, 50, (2015), pp. 254-266
Article / Letter to editor
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Child Abuse & Neglect
This study investigated concurrent links between adolescent romantic couples’ reports of aggression (relational and physical) and relationship functioning (e.g., attachment security, conflict prevalence, coping strategies, jealousy, and affiliative and romantic relationship quality) using a pattern-oriented approach. The sample included 194 romantic partner dyads (Mage = 16.99 years for females and Mage = 18.41 years for males). A hierarchical cluster analysis identified five distinct subgroups of dyads based on male and female reports of relational and physical aggression, ranging from nonaggressive couples (42%), to those characterized by aggressive females (18%), aggressive males (14%), physically aggressive females (20%), and mutually aggressive females and males (6%). Clusters in which one partner was perceived as either relationally or physically aggressive were characterized by higher rates of conflict, less adaptive coping, and more jealousy (particularly in males). The mutually aggressive couples showed the least adaptive relationship functioning, with high rates of conflict, a deficit in reflection and emotion regulation in conflict situations, and a lack of affiliative relationship qualities. The discussion focuses on the formative character of aggression in these early romantic relations, the aggravating impact of mutual aggression on relationship functioning, and the gender-specific functions of aggression in relationships characterized by unilateral aggression.
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