Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 109–119 | Cite as

Patterns of Psychological Aggression, Dominance, and Jealousy within Marriage

  • Heidi L. KarEmail author
  • K. Daniel O’Leary
Original Article


Few empirical studies with representative samples have focused on the gendered aspect of psychological aggression and its sub-constructs of dominance and jealousy. Those that do report on gender differences, often fail to report on important dyadic factors such as whether the aggression is unilateral or bilateral in nature. Differences in psychological aggression, dominance, and jealousy constructs were assessed in a representative sample of 453 married parents. Overall, women had significantly higher dominance, jealousy, and psychological aggression scores. Both male and female respondents in relationships where there was bi-directional severe psychological aggression demonstrated higher mean levels of severe psychological aggression, dominance, and jealousy than did their counterparts who were unilaterally severely aggressive. This is the first study to demonstrate that bilateral psychological aggression is associated with higher mean levels of psychological aggression, dominance, and jealousy scores for both male and female partners than unilateral aggression. Contrary to our hypothesis, there was no differential impact of severe psychological aggression by gender.


Emotional abuse Intimate-partner violence Partner aggression Control Bilateral aggression 



This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01MH57985. We thank Susan O’Leary for her editorial and data analyses assistance and Daniel Foti for his data analyses consultation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychological Services (116B)San Francisco VA Medical CenterSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

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