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An Experimental Analysis of Power and Aggression in Close Relationships

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Author: Mills, Jennifer Leigh
Advisor: Pilkington, Constance
Committee Members: Forestell, Catherine A.; Vinson, Robert Trent
Issued Date: 5/4/2012
Subjects: Power
Close relationships
Heterosexual relationships
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/16765
Description: The purpose of the current study was to examine aggression in romantic couples exposed to different power levels and different patterns of provocation. Participants in positions of high or low power were faced with one of four levels of provocation: Low, Decreasing, Increasing, and High. The amount of "bad juice" a participant was given to drink was used as the manipulation of provocation and the amount of "bad juice" a participant poured for his or her partner was used as the measure of retaliatory aggression. Seventy-nine couples completed multiple trials of drinking and allotting this juice for their partners. A 2 (sex) x 2 (power) x 4 (provocation) x 5 (trial) repeated measures ANCOVA and follow up post-hoc analyses indicated that, overall, participants responded to the provocation condition they were in: participants who received high amounts of provocation retaliated with higher levels of aggression and participants in the low provocation condition responded with lower levels of aggression. Participants in the High Power group poured a larger mean number of ounces of bad juice than participants in the Low Power group; however, participants in the Low Power group poured a greater percentage of juice for their partners than participants in the High Power condition. Men and women displayed similar levels of aggressive behavior, though differences emerged in interaction effects. Implications of these and other findings, as well as methodological limitations and directions for future research are discussed.
Degree: Bachelors of Science in Psychology

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