Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Arnold L. Stolberg


Testing a model that explains the ways in which interparental conflict shapes later intimate relationships was the goal of the present study. Participants were 94 college students at Virginia Commonwealth University, a large state university with a diverse student body. The study found that violence occurs with alarming frequency in the dating relationships of university students. Analyses also revealed an intergenerational pattern of violence in which individuals from high conflict homes were more likely to use violent conflict resolution strategies in their own adult romantic relationships. Specifically, young adults from homes characterized by high levels of verbal conflict and minor physical aggression were more likely to be both the perpetrator and the victim of physical violence than young adults from adaptive/low conflict homes. These young adults were also more likely to instigate verbal conflict within their own romantic relationships than individuals from adaptive/low conflict homes. Contrary to study hypotheses, young adults who witnessed severe physical violence between their parents were not more likely to be in a relationship characterized by physical or psychological aggression than other participants. Finally, the analyses support the hypothesis that dysfunctional relationship beliefs is a partial mediator through which childhood exposure to interparental conflict influences psychological aggression toward a romantic partner. No evidence of other cognitive and memory biases was found. These findings have important implications for research and intervention efforts.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Psychology Commons