Effects of Angry Rumination and Distraction in Partner Violent Men
Potthoff, Andrea L
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Although the tendency to ruminate is related to the frequency of intimate partner violent (IPV) perpetration (Sotelo & Babcock, 2013), it is unclear how intimate partner violent men react emotionally and physiologically during angry rumination. The current study is the first to experimentally manipulate rumination and distraction in a violent sample. Using the rumination and distraction paradigm developed by Nolen-Hoeksema and Morrow (1993), IPV and nonviolent (NV) men underwent an anger induction and were randomly assigned to either ruminate or distract. Both groups were expected to show an increase in physiological arousal and self-reported anger during rumination and a decrease in physiological arousal and self-reported anger during distraction. Self-reported anger was predicted to mediate the change in physiological arousal. IPV men were hypothesized to experience increased effects of rumination compared to NV men. The present study also explored IPV men’s tendency to ruminate (trait rumination). As predicted, the results demonstrate an increase in heart rate from baseline to post-rumination. No change in physiological arousal was observed in the distraction condition over time. Surprisingly, both conditions resulted in an increase in self-reported anger. Self-reported anger could not be tested as a mediator of physiological arousal because the basic requirements of mediation were not established. No difference self-reported anger was found between IPV and NV men. Trait rumination was found to be positively correlated with IPV frequency, depressive symptoms, and anxious symptoms. From a theoretical and clinical perspective, the effects of angry rumination in IPV men, and a violent sample in general, must be examined in order to understand the sequence of events that lead to an act of IPV and develop effective interventions for perpetrators.