The Effects of Instigation, Experiential Avoidance, and Emotion Dysregulation on Dating Aggression



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Physical violence, psychological aggression, and cyber abuse are particularly prevalent in college student dating relationships. A behavioral theory of aggression and violent behavior, I3 Theory predicts that aggressive behavior and dating aggression are most likely to occur in the presence of three processes: instigating cues (e.g., provocation), aggressive-impelling forces (e.g., experiential avoidance), and diminished inhibition (e.g., emotion dysregulation). Recent research suggests that higher levels of experiential avoidance and emotion dysregulation may moderate the relation between provocation and dating aggression. However, no studies to date have examined these variables simultaneously. The purpose of this study was to test I3 Theory using an experimental test of aggression using the Voodoo Doll Task (VDT). College students (N = 269) listened to a neutral recording and then completed a behavioral measure of aggressive tendencies, the VDT. Participants then listened to a provocative jealousy induction scenario and again completed the VDT. Emotion dysregulation marginally accounted for the increase in aggressive tendencies on the VDT following provocation. Emotion dysregulation predicted use of physical, psychological, and cyber aggression, whereas experiential avoidance significantly predicted of cyber aggression.



I3 Theory, Dating aggression, Cyber abuse, Emotion dysregulation, Experiential avoidance