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Motivational Needs for Power and Spouse-Specific Assertiveness in Assaultive and Nonassaultive Men

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Men who had assaulted their wives were compared to maritally conflicted (but nonassaultive) and satisfactorily married controls through the use of Thematic Apperception Test stories scored for the need for power. When the stimulus pictures showed ambiguous male-female relationships, the assaultive men generated higher need-for-power scores than the average of both control groups combined but did not differ from the maritally conflicted group on need for power. The assaultive men had lower spouse-specific assertiveness scores than either control group, however. A discriminant analysis based on need-for-power and assertiveness scores correctly classified the wife assaulters and maritally conflicted males 90% of the time. The resulting profile of assaultive men was of a group high in the need to exert power in relationships with women but lacking in the verbal resources to do so. It was hypothesized that this combination of a high need for power and a deficit in verbal ability to generate influence produces chronic frustration, which may increase the risk of violence when combined with other factors.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Universty of Brtish Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Publication date: January 1, 1987

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