To understand the impact of intimate partner aggression (IPA) on family interaction, this study examines emotional processes through sophisticated technology-assisted assessment of emotional components and cutting-edge statistical methods in the important interpersonal context of conflictual family discussion.
Specific aims i nclude examination of: (a) associations between components of emotion (arousal, valence, and approach/ avoidance behaviors) and intimate partner aggression (IPA) within and between family members;(b) components of emotion as mediators of the longitudinal associations between IPA and symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD and relationship quality over a 3-year period for youth and parents;and, (c) ethnicity and child gender as moderators of the associations between IPA, emotion components, and symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD and relationship quality. The proposed research examines both husbands'and wives'physical and psychological IPA and examines components of emotion using vocal fundamental frequency, facial expressions, and gaze, gesture, touch, and posture during 3-person conflict interactions between mothers, fathers and their adolescent child in 152 ethnically diverse families with varying levels of IPA in the past year and over the couple's history. Combining separate measurement of emotional components with linear and dynamic analyses allows for sensitive investigation of cycles of emotional responding between family members. Inclusion of adolescents in these discussions permits examination of emotion during interaction at the family system level, and analysis of the effects of conflict- related emotion on adolescent psychological and relational outcomes adds to the IPA literature on an under- researched developmental period. Gender differences in adolescent's emotional responses during conflict in IPA families are likely to be different from those seen earlier in childhood but have yet to be explored. Likewise, ethnicity has received scant attention in research examining conflict-related emotion in IPA families but findings from related literatures suggest that important differences are likely to exist. The proposed research is embedded in a larger study of the sponsor on the effects of violence on children, and benefits from having multiple waves of data on IPA, adult symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, adolescent internalizing and externalizing behaviors, and marital and parent/child relationship quality. With multi-wave data, emotion components can be explored as predictors of the longitudinal stability of IPA and as mediators of the longitudinal associations between IPA and psychological and relational outcomes.

Public Health Relevance

The serious consequences of physical and psychological aggression between men and women have led to calls from researchers and government officials (i.e., Healthy Marriage Initiative, 2005) to better understand IPA by identifying mechanisms that maintain it, and that are associated with negative mental health and relationship outcomes for victims, witnesses, and perpetrators of IPA. This study examines emotion as one such mechanism. Understanding the associations between IPA and emotional processes within and between family members could inform the development of more effective prevention programs and intervention efforts for families and individuals.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F11-B (20))
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Maholmes, Valerie
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University of Southern California
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Los Angeles
United States
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Baucom, Katherine J W; Baucom, Brian R; Christensen, Andrew (2015) Changes in dyadic communication during and after integrative and traditional behavioral couple therapy. Behav Res Ther 65:18-28
Baucom, Brian R; Sheng, Elisa; Christensen, Andrew et al. (2015) Behaviorally-based couple therapies reduce emotional arousal during couple conflict. Behav Res Ther 72:49-55
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Baucom, Katherine J W; Baucom, Brian R; Christensen, Andrew (2012) Do the naïve know best? The predictive power of naïve ratings of couple interactions. Psychol Assess 24:983-94
Baucom, Brian R; Atkins, David C; Eldridge, Kathleen et al. (2011) The language of demand/withdraw: verbal and vocal expression in dyadic interactions. J Fam Psychol 25:570-80