, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 157-175

The intergenerational transmission of aggression across three generations

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Abstract

This study examined the intergenerational transmission of aggression across three generations in 181 community families. Regression analyses were conducted to assess the extent to which child abuse and marital abuse in the family-of-origin (G1) are predictive of child abuse potential and marital aggression in the second generation (G2), abuse in the family-of-origin is predictive of aggression in the third generation (G3), and child abuse potential and marital aggression in the second generation are predictive of aggression in the third generation. For males, exposure to aggression was predictive of aggressive behavior across all three generations. For females, the only significant prediction was from marital aggression in G1 to husband-to-wife marital aggression in G2. This study points to the importance of examining the transmission of both child abuse and marital aggression in order to assess their relative importance. It is also recommended that the transmission of aggression be assessed separately for males and females, as the data point to the family system as a factor related to aggression in males, yet do not provide the same explanation for females.