Purdue University Graduate School
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The Role of Differentiation of Self and Gender on the Experience of Psychological Aggression by a Romantic Partner

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posted on 2019-06-11, 14:58 authored by Mackenzie M SullivanMackenzie M Sullivan

The study aimed to understand and advance the dynamics that influence psychological aggression. Psychological aggression can be defined as, verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally, and/or control another person. In our society, the occurrence of psychological aggression in relationships is far more tolerated then physical aggression, but the effects can be more long term and harmful. The study hypothesized that an individual’s level of differentiation of self--a person’s ability to differentiate between feeling and thinking in times of stress--and their gender have a role in the severity of psychological aggression. The study was approved by IRB and using an online survey through MTurk asked participants about experiencing and perpetrating psychological aggression in their romantic relationships. The study had 192 participates in the multiple regression analyses, who provided some support that the level of differentiation of self and severity of psychological aggression, experiencing and perpetrating, have a negative significant relationship. Gender was found to not impact the relationship between differentiation of self and severity of psychological aggression. Clinical implications, limitations, and future directions for research were addressed.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Behavioral Sciences

Campus location

  • Hammond

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Anne B. Edwards

Additional Committee Member 2

Megan J. Murphy

Additional Committee Member 3

Gunner Karakurt