Recognition of Wives' Emotional Expressions: A Mechanism in the Relationship Between Psychopathology and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration

Amy D. Marshall, Amy Holtzworth-Munroe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

Among a community sample of 88 couples, husbands' emotion recognition skills were examined as a mechanism accounting for the relationships between two dimensions of psychopathology that commonly describe violent husbands (i.e., borderline/dysphoric and psychopathic personality characteristics) and their perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV). Husbands' diminished sensitivity to their wives' expressions of happiness partially mediated the relationship between their borderline/dysphoric characteristics and their IPV perpetration, supporting Dutton's (1995) theory of IPV. These relationships were specific to expressions displayed by husbands' wives (as opposed to unfamiliar men and women), demonstrating the significance of the intimate relationship. Partial support was found for Blair's (1995) violence inhibition mechanism model, such that husbands' IPV was associated with their diminished sensitivity to expressions of fear and their psychopathy was associated with misidentifying fearful expressions as neutral. However, the strength of husbands' diminished sensitivity to fear as a mediator of the psychopathy-IPV relationship was suboptimal. Moreover, sensitivity to wives' expressions of happiness also mediated the psychopathy-IPV relationship, potentially because of overlap in psychopathology constructs or inadequate examination of the temporal specificity of the two theories tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)

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