More than 10 million adults in the United States experience intimate partner violence (IPV) annually in the form of physical, sexual, and psychological aggression. Prior research shows that the prevalence rates of IPV peak during emerging adulthood, between the ages of 18 and 25 years, and 17% to 39% of adults report perpetrating physical aggression against a romantic partner. Victims of IPV are at increased risk for mental and physical illness, substance abuse, risk behaviors, and academic disengagement. Despite those serious public health consequences, current theoretical and empirical research has been unable to comprehensively explain the etiology of IPV thereby failing to provide guidance for effective interventions. Attempting to add to existing knowledge, the current study will examine the role of neuropsychological processing in IPV perpetration capitalizing on a long follow-up time (18 months with 3 assessments) of 160 emerging adults. The study will examine the following aims, whether, 1) natural maturation of executive functions and emotion regulation abilities during emerging adulthood is associated with reduction of IPV perpetration; 2) executive functions and emotion regulation abilities mediate the association between experiences of childhood violence in the family of origin and IPV perpetration; and, 3) there are race/ethnicity and gender differences in the associations of executive functions and emotion regulation with IPV perpetration. To maximize study external validity, half of the participants will be recruited from the undergraduate population of Queens College in the borough of Queens in NYC and the other half will be recruited from the broader community in Queens. Reflecting the diversity of the borough of Queens, the sample population is racially diverse (i.e., 26% Asian, 15% Black, and 28% Hispanic) and about 54% female. At each assessment, participants will complete measures of IPV perpetration, executive functions (attentional control, inhibition, monitoring, cognitive flexibility, planning and working memory), and emotion regulation (measured by respiratory sinus arrhythmia). Additional questionnaires will assess exposure to violence in the family of origin, symptoms of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, substance use, and antisocial behaviors, which will be controlled in the data analyses. The associations of executive functions, emotion regulation with IPV (aim 1) will be analyzed with Growth Curve Models (GCM) in Mplus version 8.0 that will examine covariation of executive functions/emotion regulation maturation and IPV perpetration over the three time points.
Aim 2 will be assessed with mediation, and aim 3 with moderation analyses in GCM. If assumptions for Structural Equation Modeling are met, latent factors of executive functions/emotion regulation will be built, and included in GCM analyses instead of manifest variables. The findings of the current longitudinal study will fill the gap in the field?s knowledge of the role maturing executive functions and emotion regulation play in IPV perpetration during emerging adulthood. This information will aid in the development of more effective IPV interventions.

Public Health Relevance

PROGRAM NARRATIVE Intimate partner violence is a significant public health problem associated with negative mental and physical health outcomes. It is more prevalent during emerging adulthood, between the ages of 18 and 25 years, than at any other time during the lifespan. This longitudinal study, of the role maturing executive functions and emotion regulation play in intimate partner violence perpetration during emerging adulthood, contributes to the field?s knowledge of important and understudied risk factors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Pilot Research Project (SC2)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1)
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Krasnova, Irina N
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Queens College
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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