Title

The experience of love in abusive and nonabusive courtship relationships

Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Advisor(s)

Clive Davis

Keywords

Traumatic bonding, Abusive, Courtship, Love

Subject Categories

Social Psychology

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine whether physical or psychological abuse from the point of view of either abusers and/or victims in dating relationships is related to elevated scores on scales of love. A positive relationship between abuse and scores on love scales is believed to be evidence of traumatic bonding (Dutton & Painter, 1983). Two hundred and twenty-four university students participated in this study. The participants completed the Conflict Tactics Scale (Strauss, 1979), the Psychological Maltreatment Inventory (Kasian & Painter, 1992), the Sternberg Triangular Love Scale (Sternberg, 1987), the Love Attitudes Scale (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986), the Adult Attachment Type Inventory (Hazan & Shaver, 1987), and a survey of demographic information. Verbal abusers obtained statistically significantly higher scores on Passion, F(2, 201) = 5.03, p =.007, and Erotic love, F(2, 201) = 5.80, p =.004 than did nonabusers. Abusers who isolated and emotionally controlled their partners obtained statistically significantly higher scores on Ludic love, F(1, 212) = 10.80, p =.001, and Manic love, F(1, 212) = 9.19, p =.003 than did nonabusers. Victims who were isolated and emotionally controlled by their partners obtained higher scores on Intimacy, F(1, 212) = 8.55, p =.004; Passion, F(1, 212) = 12.53, p =.000; Commitment, F(1, 212) = 6.95, p =.009; Erotic love, F(1, 212) = 7.54, p =.007; and Agapic love, F(1, 212) = 16.10, p =.000 than did nonvictims. Abusers who perpetrated acts of jealousy obtained higher scores in Passion, F(1, 212) = 7.34, p =.007; Erotic love, F(1, 212) = 7.23, p =.008; and Manic love, F(1, 212) = 8.86, p =.003 than did nonabusers. Among the female participants who described their attachment style as avoidant, there was a higher incidence than expected of females who attacked their partner's self-esteem and a lower incidence than expected of females who did not attack their partner's self-esteem. Among the female participants who described their attachment style as secure, there was a lower incidence than expected of females who attacked their partner's self-esteem and a higher incidence than expected of females who did not attack their partner's self-esteem, $\chi\sp2$(2, N = 158) = 13.36, $p < .001.$ Traumatic bonding occurred more consistently for abusers than for victims.

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