Aggression in the context of marriage and family is a common and serious issue in therapy with couples and families. While it is known that aggression may be transferred across generations, the exact mechanism for how it is transmitted is not fully understood. This study presents adult attachment style as a moderator through which the relationship between family of origin aggression and marital aggression is developed. The present study examined Relationship Evaluation (RELATE) questionnaire data for 332 individuals. Anxious and avoidant attachment were examined as potential moderators between family of origin (FOO) physical aggression or parental hostile conflict style and marital physical and sexual aggression perpetration and victimization. Results indicate that for men, anxious attachment may be a moderator for FOO physical aggression or hostile conflict and marital sexual aggression perpetration, and that avoidant attachment may be a moderator for FOO hostile conflict and marital sexual aggression perpetration. For men, neither attachment style is a significant moderator in models analyzing FOO physical aggression or hostile conflict and marital outcomes including physical aggression perpetration or victimization, sexual aggression victimization, or hostile conflict. For women, anxious attachment may be a moderator for FOO physical aggression and marital physical aggression perpetration. No other models investigating marital physical aggression perpetration as a dependent variable were significant. For women, neither attachment style is a significant moderator in models analyzing FOO physical aggression or hostile conflict and marital outcomes including physical aggression victimization, sexual aggression victimization, sexual aggression perpetration, or hostile conflict. Future research should investigate adult attachment as a moderator of intergenerational transmission of aggression using larger and more heterogeneous samples with more precise measures of aggression to analyze more specific groups of insecure adults in the context of their partner's attachment style. Limitations and clinical implications of these results for therapists working with couples are discussed.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Torres, Faith Rebekah, "The Moderating Effect of Adult Attachment Style in the Intergenerational Transmission of Aggression in Marriage" (2009). Theses and Dissertations. 2028.
attachment, family of origin, domestic violence, physical aggression, hostility, sexual aggression, marital outcomes, intergenerational, RELATE