Relational predictors of dating violence among university students

Sümer, Zeynep
Toplu, Ezgi
Contribution Dating violence is widely defined as “the threat or actual use of physical, sexual or verbal abuse by one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of a dating relationship” (Andersen & Danis, 2007, p. 88). A growing body of research repeatedly confirms that prevalence of dating violence is pretty high among college population (Amar & Gennaro, 2005; Makepeace, 1981). Along with the prevalence rates, researchers have significantly advanced our knowledge of variables and risk factors associated with dating violence. Murray and Kardatzke (2007) claimed that certain relationship dynamic variables may make it more likely for dating violence to occur within college students’ relationships (p.82). Rusbult’s Investment Model (1983), which is an extension of Interdependence Theory developed by Kelley and Thibaut (1978), provides a basis for previous findings regarding the interplay between relationship dynamic variables and dating violence. This model suggests that a person’s level of commitment to his/her partner is influenced by level of satisfaction with the relationship, quality of available alternatives, and the size of investment that the person has in the relationship. In the literature, there are studies showing that relationship satisfaction (Choice & Lamke, 1997; Rusbult & Martz, 1995), relationship commitment (Katz, Kuffel, & Coblentz, 2002; Rusbult & Martz, 1995), investment into a relationship (Marcus & Sweet, 2002; Stets, 1991) and the lack of alternatives among dating couples (Shorey, Cornelius; & Bell, 2008) may increase and/or decrease the risk of dating violence perpetration and victimization. In addition, Ronfeldt, Kimerling, and Arias (1998) found that the dissatisfaction partners felt about their level of power in the relationship was the most powerful predictor of relationship violence. Kaura and Allen (2004) also found that relationship power dissatisfaction is associated with the use of violence in dating relationships for both men and women. Although the risk factors of dating violence have been identified in the US, Canada and in some of Western countries, there has been no empirical study conducted in Turkey, yet. Moreover, it has been stated in the literature that when the victims of dating violence are willing to seek help, it may be difficult for them to verbalize. Therefore, it seems essential for college counselors to be aware of common presenting problems that co-occur with dating violence and to know how to develop intervention and prevention programs (Murray & Kardatzske, 2007). It is also worth noting that culture is another factor in the investigation of dating violence. A closer look at dating violence and factors contributing to that phenomenon in a different culture seems valuable. Considering the Investment Model as a theoretical base, the current study aims to investigate the role of relationship dynamic variables in predicting dating violence perpetration and victimization among Turkish university students. More specifically, the following research question was tested in this study: “How well do gender, age, length of the relationship, satisfaction, involvement, commitment, quality of alternatives, and relationship power dissatisfaction predict dating violence perpetration and victimization among university students?” Method The sample consists of conveniently selected 535 university students, from a state urban university, who are currently (or who had been) in a romantic relationship. To measure the dating violence victimization and perpetration, The Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2) was used. The CTS2 (Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996) is a 78-item self-report measure (twice asked, first for what the respondent did and then for what the partner did) including 5 subscales; negotiation, psychological aggression, physical assault, sexual coercion, and injury. To measure relationship dynamics, The Investment Model Scale (Rusbult, Martz, & Agnew, 1998) was used. It is a 37- item self evaluation measurement, including four subscales, satisfaction, quality of alternatives, investment, and commitment. To measure relationship dissatisfaction, a 12-item self report measure “Relationship Power Index” (Ronfeldt, Kimmerling & Arias; 1998) was used. After granting permission from the institutional review board, the Turkish versions of the measures, along with the informed consent forms, were administered to participants during the class sessions. Participants were assured about confidentiality and subject anonymity. It took nearly 20 minutes for the participants to fill out the measures. Expected Outcomes Two hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted separately to predict the dating violence perpetration and victimization of university students with three set of variables. For victimization, the first set of variables included the length of the relationship, gender and age. The model 1 predicted victimization significantly, explaining 4% of the variance. Length of the relationship was found significant (β= 19). The second set of variables included satisfaction, investment, commitment and quality of alternatives which predicted victimization significantly, explaining 13% of the variance. Investment (β= .24) and commitment (β= -.21) were significant variables in this model. The model 3 included the dissatisfaction with relationship power which predicted victimization significantly, explaining 18 % of the variance (β= -.25). For perpetration, the same set of variables was entered into analysis in the same order. The model 1 predicted dating violence perpetration significantly, explaining 4% of the variance. Length of the relationship was significant (β= 20) for this model. The model 2 predicted perpetration significantly, explaining 16% of the variance. Investment (β= .19) and commitment (β= -.28) were significant variables for the second model. The Model 3 included the dissatisfaction with relationship power which predicted perpetration significantly, explaining 18% of the variance (β= -.16).
Citation Formats
Z. Sümer and E. Toplu, “Relational predictors of dating violence among university students,” Berlin, Almanya, 2011, p. 1, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: