Women more aggressive to partners than men

Women may be more likely to be aggressive to their partners than men, according to a study presented this week as part of a symposium on intimate partner violence (IPV) at the British Psychological Society's Division of Forensic Psychology annual conference in Glasgow.

Dr Elizabeth Bates from the University of Cumbria and colleagues from the University of Central Lancashire gave a total of 1104 students (706 women and 398 men; aged between 18 to 71 with an average age of 24) questionnaires about their physical aggression and controlling behaviour, to partners and to same-sex others (including friends).

The fundings showed that women were more likely to be physically aggressive to their partners than men and that men were more likely to be physically aggressive to their same-sex others.

Furthermore, women engaged in significantly higher levels of controlling behaviour than men, which significantly predicted physical aggression in both sexes. 

Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Bates said: "Previous studies have sought to explain male violence towards women as rising from patriarchal values, which motivate men to seek to control women’s behaviour, using violence if necessary. 

“This study found that women demonstrated a desire to control their partners and were more likely to use physical aggression than men. This suggests that IPV may not be motivated by patriarchal values and needs to be studied within the context of other forms of aggression, which has potential implications for interventions.”

The study has been reported in The Times, The Huffington Post and the the Press Association.

Other papers presented in the symposium are as follows:

‘Inner Strength Domestic Violence Programme’ – Dr Nichola Graham-Kevan (University of Central Lancashire & Mid Sweden University)

‘Men's experiences of victimisation from a female intimate partner: An international study’ - Louise Dixon (University of Birmingham).

‘Reasons for engaging in conflict within and outside of relationships: A comparison of women’s responses’ - Abi Thornton, (University of Bolton), Nichola Graham-Kevan (University of Central Lancashire) & J. Archer.

‘Literature review: Men’s Experience of Domestic Abuse’ - Brian Dempsey (University of Dundee).

The Division of Forensic Psychology promotes the professional interests of forensic psychologists and the 2014 annual conference takes place from 25 to 27 June in Glasgow. Follow the conference on Twitter.

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