Couple-level analysis of the relation between family-of-origin aggression and intimate partner violence

Patti A.Timmons Fritz, Amy M.Smith Slep, K. Daniel O'Leary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Using the actor-partner interdependence model (Kenny, 1996), the current study is the first to examine: (1) the relation among 4 forms of family-of-origin aggression (FOA), namely, father-to-mother, mother-to-father, father-to-child, and mother-to-child aggression, and subsequent experience with physical intimate partner violence (IPV) at the couple level; and (2) the gender-specific intergenerational transmission hypothesis. Method: A representative sample of 453 married or cohabiting heterosexual couples from the U.S. northeast completed self-report measures of IPV and FOA as part of a larger study on family and relationship violence. Results: Although both individuals' (respondent effects) and partners' (partner effects) FOA histories generally predicted physical IPV victimization and perpetration, dual-FOA couples were not at increased risk for IPV. Respondents' interparental and partners' parent-to-child aggression experiences were most predictive of IPV. Gender-specific transmission of aggression across generations was only partially supported. Last, mother-to-child aggression was a significant predictor in 3 of the 4 models. Conclusions: Findings support the intergenerational transmission of aggression (Widom, 1989) and social learning/cognitive (Bandura, 1977, 1997) theories, and suggest that both partners' IPV and FOA (which often includes multitype maltreatment) experiences should be assessed and considered when developing prevention and treatment programs. Violence prevention parent training programs are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-153
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Dyadic
  • family of-origin aggression
  • intergenerational
  • intimate partner violence
  • social learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


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