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The Role of Empathy in Violent Intimate Relationships

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This study employed a dyadic data analysis approach to examine the association between partners' dispositional empathy and intimate partner violence (IPV). Data were collected from 1,156 couples, who were participants in Wave 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). For both IPV perpetration and IPV victimization, significant actor effects for men and significant partner effects for men to women emerged: Men who were less empathic were more likely to perpetrate IPV and to be victimized. Similarly, women whose men partners were less empathic were more likely to perpetrate IPV and to be victimized. Findings partially generalized to analyses assessing the associations between empathy and the different types of IPV (psychological, physical, sexual IPV, and occurrence of injury from IPV) separately. The present findings show that men's levels of empathy may carry more weight in determining their own as well as their partners' aggressive behaviors than do women's levels of empathy.
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Keywords: COMPASSION; COUPLES; DYADIC; INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE; YOUNG ADULTS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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