The Context of Aggressive Behavior in Marriage

A Longitudinal Study of Newlyweds

Published in: Journal of Family Psychology, v. 20, no. 1, Mar. 2006, p. 12-20

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Nancy E. Frye, Benjamin Karney

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Under what circumstances are spouses more or less likely to engage in aggressive behaviors? To address this question, the current study drew on multiple longitudinal assessments of 1st-married newlyweds to examine correlates of within-subject variability in aggressive behavior. Controlling for marital satisfaction, the authors found that spouses were more likely to engage in physical aggression at times when they engaged in higher levels of psychological aggression. Additionally, husbands reporting higher levels of chronic stress were more likely to engage in physical aggression overall and were more likely to engage in physical aggression when they were experiencing higher than average levels of acute stress. These results highlight how demands and supports in the context external to a marriage may affect processes within the marriage.

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