Relationship Dynamics, Emotion State, and Domestic Violence: A Stress and Masculinities Perspective

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Abstract

We draw on the burgeoning masculinities literature to develop a framework for understanding how emotional reactions to stress may be associated with domestic violence. We conducted a daily diary study of 22 men with a history of domestic violence and a matched comparison group of 23 men with no known history of domestic violence. Each day, respondents completed a daily diary questionnaire on relationship dynamics, stress, and emotion state. This research design allowed us to examine relationship dynamics and emotion state as they unfolded over a 14-day period. We find a difference between the two groups in the links between stress, relationship dynamics, and emotion state: Nonviolent men are more emotionally reactive to stress and relationship dynamics than are violent men. Among men with a history of domestic violence, it is as if the link between personal circumstances and emotion state has been disconnected. These findings support the idea that the demonstration of masculinity through repression of emotion and violent behavior may be linked.

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