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The Effects of Intimate Partner Violence on Relationship Satisfaction Over Time for Young At-Risk Couples: The Moderating Role of Observed Negative and Positive Affect

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In the current study, the moderating effects of observed negative and positive affects on the association between intimate partner violence (IPV, physical aggression) and relationship satisfaction were examined over a 5-year period. Multiwave data were obtained from a sample of young adult men at risk for delinquency and their women partners (n = 121 couples; ages 21–26 years). The trajectory of each partner's relationship satisfaction and the effects of dyadic IPV and affect were tested using HLM analyses and a two-level (within-couple and between-couple) dyadic growth model. Average levels of dyadic positive affect were associated with relationship satisfaction for both men and women. For men, increases in couples' positive affect over time were linked to increases in relationship satisfaction, and increases in couples' externalizing negative affect were linked to decreases in satisfaction. For women, higher levels of couples' IPV predicted lower levels of satisfaction. Couples' internalizing negative affect amplified the effects of IPV on satisfaction over time. Increases in IPV were associated with declines in satisfaction for couples with high levels of internalizing negative affect. Conversely, average levels of externalizing negative affect did not amplify the association between IPV and relationship satisfaction. In fact, the adverse influence of IPV on relationship satisfaction was greater for couples who displayed low levels of externalizing negative affect. Because of the inverse association between externalizing negative affect and relationship satisfaction, these findings were interpreted to suggest that the salience of IPV was greater in couples whose relationship satisfaction was not already impaired by high levels of negative affect.
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Keywords: COUPLES; INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE; NEGATIVE AFFECT; POSITIVE AFFECT; RELATIONSHIP SATISFACTION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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