University of Missouri - Columbia.
Main.  Illumination.  Funding.  Compliance.  Forms.  Policies.  Tech Transfer.  Research Division.  Links.
Back to Story Archive
Posted 10.14.04

MU Researcher Develops New Model for Analyzing Spousal Abuse

Better Understanding May Lead to Decreased Aggression

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- When most people think of a family, the words "comfort" and "safety," not "violence" and "abuse," usually come to mind. However, aggression in families seems to be a growing trend, with spousal abuse being the most brutal and accounting for 46 percent of all reported family violence incidents. A University of Missouri-Columbia researcher recently developed a new model for analyzing couples, involving several specific categories, to help understand motives behind individual behavior leading to aggression and abuse toward partners.

"Researchers tend to believe that aggression and control are experienced similarly by all couples in violent situations," said Loreen Olson, assistant professor of communication. "A need exists for a more comprehensive model of relationships, focusing on understanding relevant characteristics of individual couples that account for the aggression they experience."

In Olson's model, individuals who have experienced aggression in their romantic relationships are divided into four categories labeled as abusive, violent, aggressive and combative. They are evaluated based on the types of aggression encountered, the frequency of the violent acts, and the way the couples negotiate power and control.

Using her model in a recent study, Olson determined that shared aggression was more likely in relationships where power was equal. In contrast, if power was held by one person, the other individual was less likely to fight back. Some couples were more negatively affected by aggression, whereas others seemed satisfied and adjusted.

"By examining how different couples negotiate power and control, we can easily identify the types of violence specific couples are encountering and successfully put an end to the aggression," Olson said.

Olson's study will be published next year in the Journal of Family Communication.



    MU News Bureau:  
© 2005 Curators of the University of Missouri. Webmaster e-mail:  


Research at MU. Press Releases & Multimedia.