Centrality of control-seeking in men's intimate partner violence perpetration

M Pippin Whitaker
Prevention Science: the Official Journal of the Society for Prevention Research 2013, 14 (5): 513-23
Two million women and one million men experience rape, stalking, or physical assault by a current or former romantic partner each year in the U.S. Not only do women report twice the incidents, but intimate partner violence (IPV) that women experience is typically more severe. Explanations for IPV gender asymmetry include male dominance attitudes, hostile sexism, and men's control-seeking. There are gaps in our knowledge of how attitudes and control-seeking co-relate to influence IPV. This study demonstrates a mediation analysis to investigate these relationships. Data were from a cross-sectional online survey of male undergraduate students from a public Southeastern university. The survey measured attitudes of male dominance and hostile sexism, desire for control, and IPV perpetration. After including age and academic level in the model, male dominance remained a significant predictor of likelihood of physical IPV (OR = 1.16, p = .004) but not psychological IPV. The addition of control-seeking (physical OR = 1.65, p < .001) mediated the influence of male dominance on the likelihood of physical IPV perpetration (OR = 1.018, p = .753). Hostile sexism was a significant predictor of psychological and physical IPV (psychological IPV OR = 1.31, p < .001; physical IPV OR = 1.54, p < .001), over and above age and academic level. The addition of control-seeking (psychological IPV OR = 1.27, p < .001; physical OR = 1.53, p < .001) partially mediated the influence of hostile sexism on IPV (psychological IPV OR = 1.21, p = .001; physical OR = 1.34, p < .001). Results suggest control-seeking mediates the relationship between male dominance and physical IPV and partially mediates the relationship between hostile sexism and IPV. Practical implications for IPV prevention programs and theoretical implications are discussed.

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