, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 251-265
Date: 04 Dec 2007

Profiles and Correlates of Relational Aggression in Young Adults’ Romantic Relationships

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Abstract

The present study examines prevalence and correlates of experiencing and perpetrating relational aggression in the context of young adults’ romantic relationships. We assess correlates of relational aggression in four domains of risk: (1) Social-cognitive, (2) Relationship, (3) Trait/dispositional, and (4) Mental health. Results indicate that modest involvement in relational aggression is relatively common. Females reported higher levels of perpetration whereas males reported higher levels of victimization. Relational aggression and victimization were related to each domain of risk for both men and women, although different patterns of findings emerged for each domain. For example, individuals who reported perpetrating relational aggression in their romantic relationships believed that aggression was most acceptable (social-cognitive risk) whereas individuals who reported experiencing relational aggression (as victims) were more likely to indicate that their self worth is contingent on relationships and that romantic relationships are very important to them (dispositional risk). Respondents who reported either perpetrating or experiencing relational aggression had higher levels of exclusivity in their relationships and were more likely to describe their relationships in anxious attachment terms (relationship risk). They also reported higher levels of depressive and anxious symptoms (mental health risk). Implications of these results for theory and prevention and intervention efforts are discussed.