Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 371–381

Attributions for episodes of marital aggression: The effects of aggression severity and alcohol use

  • Marilyn Senchak
  • Kenneth E. Leonard

DOI: 10.1007/BF01531946

Cite this article as:
Senchak, M. & Leonard, K.E. J Fam Viol (1994) 9: 371. doi:10.1007/BF01531946


This study examined attributions for husband to wife marital agression as a function of aggression severity and husbands' alcohol use. Subjects were a community sample of 117 wives and 109 husbands who reported an episode of serious physical aggression during a structured interview, conducted at one year of marriage. The results showed that husbands' attributions were influenced by both severity and alcohol use. In particular, sober husbands tended to blame their wives for severe aggression, but, unexpectedly, drinking husbands tended to assume responsibility for severe aggression. In contrast, wives' attributions were influenced mainly by severity. Wives also discriminated between the locus and stability dimensions of causal attributions, whereas husbands relied solely on the locus dimension. Specifically, wives held husbands' behavior more responsible for severe aggression than their own behavior and held husbands' character much more responsible than their own character. Additional findings with regard to relationship attributions were discussed.

Key words

marital aggression attributions aggression severity alcohol 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marilyn Senchak
    • 1
  • Kenneth E. Leonard
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Institute on AddictionsNew York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse ServicesBuffalo

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