Violence in College Students' Dating Relationships1


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    A version of this paper was presented at the meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, Atlanta, March 1983. Lee Sigelman and Richard Shuntich are thanked for their helpful comments.

Requests for reprints should be forwarded to Carol K. Sigelman, Department of Psychology, 145 Cammack, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY 40475.


In a survey of 504 college students examining predictors of violence in heterosexual relationships, over half of both men and women had committed at least one physically violent act, and men more often than women reported having been the victims of such acts. Most respondents who reported some experience with violence had both committed and received it, were involved in relatively few different types of violence, and first experienced violence when a relationship had moved beyond the casual dating stage. Modest associations between physical violence and sexual aggression were uncovered. In a series of discriminant analyses, men who abused their partners were not readily distinguished from men who did not, but tended to be young, low in family income, traditional in attitudes toward women, abused as children, currently living with a woman, and from Appalachian areas. Women who abused were more readily discriminated and scored low in social desirability, were abused as children, and were from non-Appalachian areas. Men who were abused were likely to be living with a woman and tended to be low in family income; similarly, cohabitation was related among women to being a target of violence, as were having been abused as a child and scoring low in social desirability. Findings are related to those of other studies of dating abuse, as well as to the family violence and aggression literatures.