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The role of relationship satisfaction in the use of indirect aggressive behavior among intimate couples

Dissertation
Author: Lauren Lane Warner

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter Page

I. INTRODUCTION........................................................................................1

Statement of the Problem....................................................................9 Research Questions..........................................................................11 Research Hypotheses........................................................................12 Significance of the Study..................................................................13 Assumptions of the Study.................................................................14 Definition of Terms..........................................................................15 Summary and Overview...................................................................16

II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.............................................................17

Aggression.......................................................................................18 History...................................................................................18 Direct Aggression...................................................................19 Indirect Aggression..........................................................................23 History....................................................................................23 Measurement of Indirect Aggression......................................25 Definition of Indirect Aggression...........................................26 Effect Danger Ratio of Indirect Aggression............................28 Correlates of Indirect Aggression...........................................30 Social Exchange Theory...................................................................32 Definition...............................................................................33 Principles of Social Exchange.................................................34 Relationship Satisfaction..................................................................39 Relationship Satisfaction and Social Exchange Theory...........40 Definition of Relationship Satisfaction...................................41 Correlates of Relationship Satisfaction...................................43 Relationship Satisfaction and Aggression...............................45 ` Relationship Satisfaction and Indirect Aggression..................46 Summary..........................................................................................50

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Chapter Page

III. METHODOLOGY.....................................................................................53

Participants.......................................................................................53 Conflict Resolution Scenarios...........................................................55 High Conflict Resolution Task....................................................56 Low Conflict Resolution Task....................................................58 Independent Raters...........................................................................60 Rater Scoring Protocol for the Frequency of Couples Indirect and Direct Aggressive Behaviors...............................60 Rater Training.............................................................................63 Measures..........................................................................................67 Dyadic Adjustment Scale ...........................................................67 Demographic Form.....................................................................69 Procedure.........................................................................................69

IV. RESULTS..................................................................................................72 Research Questions..........................................................................73 Question One..............................................................................73 Question Two.............................................................................74 Question Three...........................................................................75 Question Four.............................................................................76

V. DISCUSSION............................................................................................78 Overview..........................................................................................78 Factors Associated with Hypotheses Testing....................................81 Discussion of Results........................................................................82 Relationship Between Indirect Aggression and Relationship Satisfaction ............................................................................83 Differences in the Frequency of Indirect Aggression by Order and Type of Conflict Task............................................84 Differences in Indirect Aggression by Type of Conflict Resolution Task......................................................................87 Differences in Indirect Aggression by Order of Conflict Task.....88 Limitations of the Study...................................................................89 Future Directions..............................................................................94 Theoretical Issues in Future Studies............................................99 Conclusions....................................................................................102

REFERENCES............................................................................................................104

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Chapter Page

APPENDIXES............................................................................................................112

APPENDIX A - TABLES 1 & 2......................................................113

APPENDIX B - SUPPLEMENTAL FORMS..................................116

APPENDIX C - IRB APPROVAL FORM.......................................128

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page

1. Antecedents and Consequences of Indirect Aggression in the Cost-Benefit Analysis.............................................................................37

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LIST OF TABLES

Table Page

1. Correlation Matrix of Indirect Aggression Scores and Relationship Satisfaction Scores...............................................................................113

2. Means and Standard Deviations of Couples’ Indirect Aggression Scores by Order of Task and Type of Task...........................................114

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Human aggressive behavior has been studied from many perspectives across many disciplines. Historically, philosophers, scientists, artists, and playwrights have made observations and assumptions regarding man’s inhumanity to man. In the last century, psychological and social psychological researchers have examined aggression with a closer lens. The result is the observation that aggression occurs universally among men and women, children and adults. However, aggressive behavior remains pathologized in most research literature, and the definitions used to explain aggression tend to view this behavior within a moral framework that condemns acts of violence. In the past 25 years, researchers have suggested that violent aggressive behavior is only one aspect of aggression. According to Nadelson, Notman, Miller, and Zilbach (1982), aggression can be defined as both constructive and destructive, instinctual and defensive, but ultimately related to the expression of the individual’s own aim and purpose. This more elaborate definition of aggression enables a variety of behavioral responses to be defined as aggressive when direct, physical, or violent responses are not used. In other words, aggressive behavior may serve the individual’s need for expression without causing physical injury, but rather by inflicting or evoking psychological or emotional injury. Bjorkqvist, Osterman, and Kaukiainen (1992) termed this type of aggressive behavior “covert” or “indirect” aggression.

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Indirect aggression is defined as behavior aimed at inflicting harm to a target in such a manner that the intent to harm is not recognized, a counter-attack is less likely, and if possible the aggressor will remain unidentified (Lagerspetz, Bjorkqvist & Peltonen, 1988). According to this definition, the aggressor makes use of the social structure to harm the target. The primary feature of indirect aggression is the covert nature of the act utilized to avoid the identification of the aggressor. Once termed, “passive-aggressive”, indirect aggression is not passive; it requires an action or response to a provocative situation, albeit usually a discrete action. A passive response requires no action. However, an individual in a provocative situation may select a passive response and therefore passivity or no action remains a viable response option, but one that cannot be considered aggressive. This confusion in the nomenclature of indirect aggression literature has complicated research efforts aimed at further empirical analysis of the behavior. References to indirect aggression as “passive-aggression” may have originated during the standardization of the diagnosis “passive-aggressive personality disorder” (PAPD) included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3 rd

edition (DSM-III; APA, 1980). This diagnosis was characterized by a tendency to “appear inept or passive…covertly designed to avoid responsibility or to control or punish others [and] to deny or conceal hostility” (Gunderson, 1997, p.1553, as cited in Kanter, 2002). This diagnosis was not included in future versions of the DSM, but the term “passive-aggressive” remains an artifact of this period. Women were most frequently diagnosed with PAPD (APA, 1980) and as a result, female aggressive behavior is often referred to as passive-aggressive behavior to this day.

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In response to the stigma associated with PAPD, and the possibility of a gender bias in diagnosis, studies examining gender differences in aggression attempted to de- pathologize female aggressive behavior by exploring the methods women use to express aggression (Frodi, Macaulay, & Thome, 1977; Hyde, 1986; Macaulay, 1985). The literature investigating how men and women differ in the expression of aggression has helped advance the scientific understanding of indirect aggressive behavior. These studies have repeatedly shown that women may select indirect forms of aggression as a preferred mode of aggressive expression instead of direct aggressive behaviors used primarily by men. However, some studies have found that both men and women use indirect aggression within certain contexts, suggesting that the selection of an aggressive strategy may be more dependent upon context and less a function of gender specific behavior or gender norms (Bjorkqvist, 1994; Bjorkqvist, Osterman, & Lagerspetz, 1994; Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz, & Kaukiainen, 1992a; Bjorkqvist et al., 1992; Bjorkqvist & Niemela, 1992; Eagly & Steffen, 1986; Lagerspetz et al., 1988; Schnake et al., 1997). According to Schnake et al. (1997), indirect aggressive behaviors include “avoiding, spreading malicious rumors, interrupting, withholding helpful information, and questioning the target individual’s judgment” (p.952). Other indirect behaviors include: gossiping, telling false stories, planning secretly to bother the individual target, excluding the person from the social group, disclosing information held in confidence, and trying to get others to dislike the person (Bjorkqvist et al., 1992). The most prominent feature among these behaviors is the aggressor’s attempt to manipulate the social structure in order to remain unknown to the target person. Individuals are less

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likely to self-report these behaviors as aggressive since this aggression is considered socially unacceptable in American culture. Since the 1990’s, research literature in human aggression has attempted to understand indirect aggressive behavior as a socially derived phenomenon. However, the study of indirect aggression remains in its infancy, and therefore much of the research literature examining indirect aggression lacks a theoretical framework to explain this behavior as a form of social interaction. The study of social structures and social components of interaction have been the focus of social psychological literature investigating aggression. Social psychological research suggests that aggressive behavior, and perhaps indirect aggressive behavior, can be framed according to the principles of social exchange theory. Most models of social exchange theory are based on the principles of learning theory (operant behavior) and the principles of microeconomics (economic exchange theory). Theoretical emphasis is placed on the benefits to, and contributions of, individuals within social interactions. Four primary assumptions underlie social exchange theory: 1) assumptions about the social structure, 2) assumptions regarding the behavior of actors, 3) assumptions about the process of interaction, and 4) assumptions regarding the classes of benefits exchanged (Emerson, 1981). The application of social exchange theory to the observation of indirect aggression assumes that the aggressor will determine the benefits exchanged in the social interaction, according to the principles of operant behavior. The fundamental assumptions of exchange theory are further applied to the study of indirect aggression by, 1) defining the social structure that will frame an indirect

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aggressive behavior, 2) observing the behavior between individuals, 3) defining the context in which the interaction will take place, and 4) examining the benefit to the aggressor within the social interaction. According to Emerson’s model of social exchange (1981), the term indirect exchange is used to classify exchanges that occur between three or more actors in the social interaction. This form of indirect exchange provides a model for the observation of indirect aggressive behaviors in that it allows the behavior to remain covert through the use of a third party. The exchange model, set forth by Thibaut and Kelley (1959), further illustrates the role of exchange theory in the explanation of covert aggressive behaviors in social interaction. This exchange theory suggests that the social interaction is predicated on the characteristics of the social relation, not just the other person’s behavior as suggested by Emerson (1981). Thibaut and Kelley’s assumption emphasizes the patterns of interdependence between actors, as determined by their relative control over each other’s outcomes (Cook, Fine, & House, 1995). The interdependence between individuals is an important variable in the use of indirect aggression as the aggressor attempts to manipulate the social structure in order to remain unknown to the target. However, most exchange models, including Emerson’s, have been primarily used to describe interactions that have some altruistic value to the individual or society. This is not stated in the theory itself, but rather by its application to human phenomena in a given context. According to Cook et al. (1995), “the theory makes no assumptions about what actors value, but it assumes that they will behave in ways that tend to produce whatever it is they do value” (p.210). This statement becomes important in the examination of indirect aggressive behaviors because most aggressive behaviors, direct

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or indirect often do not appear to have an altruistic value. According to studies of indirect aggression, the value of an indirect aggressive behavior is determined by the aggressor using a cost-benefit analysis of the situation, or an “effect/danger ratio” as termed by Bjorkqvist (1994). The concept of an “effect/danger ratio” as defined in indirect aggression literature seems to use the underlying principles of exchange value as outlined in social exchange theory, in that an individual may choose an indirect strategy based on their evaluation of the potential value of the social exchange (Bjorkqvist et al., 1992). In other words, the aggressor assesses the effect of the aggressive expression and then estimates the dangers involved, physical or psychological, to both the aggressor and the target of the aggression. The aggressor attempts to identify an aggressive strategy (direct or indirect) that will maximize the effect to the target while minimizing the risk to the aggressor. Indirect aggressive strategies are often considered less risky because the aggressor’s identity can remain hidden from the target. Adults tend to use covert or indirect forms of aggression as a response to the complex social norms regulating aggressive behavior, which may influence the amount of risk associated with the behavior (Bjorkqvist et al., 1992; Schnake et al., 1997). However, the effects of social norms on individual behavior are contextual or situation dependent as each situation may have specific norms regulating behavior. In this respect, social norms may interact in the analysis of the effect/danger ratio involved with indirect aggression. Research literature in indirect aggression has indicated that the study of aggression, particularly the study of covert or indirect forms of aggression, must consider

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the contextual variables affecting aggressive expression. In other words, the social context where aggressive behavior occurs must be defined. Some examples of contextual variables may include, interpersonal or intimate relationships, work or employee relationships, or social encounters with strangers. The present study was designed to examine the behavior of intimate couples as a contextual domain. Researchers have sought to understand the nuances involved in couples’ interaction with the social environment from many perspectives. For example, psychological or emotional abuse between partners could be considered a form of indirect aggression, although it has not been conceptualized according to this definition in the literature. Research studies investigating relationship satisfaction and domestic violence have indicated that psychological abuse is often a component of marital conflict (Archer, 2000). And while psychological abuse may have many definitions in research literature, a primary feature of this behavior within intimate relationships is the use of power by one partner over another, and the covert nature of the behavior. The use of indirect aggressive strategies by both partners in an intimate relationship may represent a hidden or unknown component of psychological abuse. Therefore, exploring the use of indirect aggression between partners in intimate relationships may help researchers and clinicians to better understand how partners use the social context to indirectly harm one another. The observation of indirect aggressive behavior between couples may shed light on the stimulus-response patterns at work within abusive relationships. The social norms, which prohibit direct aggressive behavior from women, may allow indirect forms of female aggressive behavior within certain conflicted social interactions. Men may also react to social norms in a given social context and choose to use indirect or direct

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aggressive strategies. This use of indirect aggressive behavior may not be acknowledged by either partner, however it may function as a stimulus in the aggressive reactions of partners within an intimate relationship. Men and women may not fully understand how indirect aggressive interactions within a conflicted interpersonal context may lead to further aggressive behavior. Within an intimate relationship context, how and when couples choose indirect aggression as a response to conflict may be related to overall relationship satisfaction between partners. Several studies have investigated the use of aggression among intimate partners (Archer, 2000; Capaldi & Crosby, 1997; Testa & Leonard, 2001). Aggressive behavior among couples has been associated with lower levels of relationship satisfaction among both men and women, however these studies have focused on the use of direct physical aggression typically associated with acts of domestic violence in popular culture. Only one study has investigated the relationship between indirect forms of aggression and relationship satisfaction among intimate couples (Linder, Crick, & Collins, 2002). According to Linder et al. (2002), the use of indirect relational aggression may occur more often among romantic relationships as a way to avoid negative social sanctions associated with physical violence. Linder et al. examined relational aggression and overall quality of relationship among romantic partners. They found that poor relationship quality was associated with the use of relational aggression with equal levels of this form of aggression used by male and female romantic partners. These authors suggest that future studies examining relationship satisfaction and indirect relational aggression utilize methods other than self-report to measure aggressive behavior. The

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current study was designed to simulate conflict for partners in order to observe and rate the occurrence of indirect aggression within romantic relationships. Overall, the selection of an indirect aggressive behavior by either partner may be related to the amount of conflict evoked by a given situation. Relationship satisfaction among couples can be expected to vary according to the amount of conflict perceived by each partner in a given relationship situation. It is possible that partners who experience high levels of conflict will evaluate the cost-benefit ratio, as outlined in social exchange theory, and choose to use aggressive behavior based on their perceived personal value rather than the potential benefit to their partner. Each partner’s self-reported level of satisfaction in the relationship may be directly related to their use of aggressive strategies in conflict resolution scenarios.

Statement of the Problem

Aggressive behavior has been studied from many perspectives, however recent studies describing alternative forms of aggressive behavior such as indirect aggression, have lacked a theoretical framework to explain the use of this form of aggression in social interaction. Social exchange theory offers a theoretical construct to frame the use of indirect aggression based on a cost-benefit analysis of social interaction. However, research studies have also indicated that the study of aggression must consider contextual variables. The use of aggression within intimate relationships represents a context where indirect aggressive behavior may occur, but few studies have investigated how indirect aggression is expressed between romantic partners.

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Indirect aggressive behavior can be conceptualized as a form of indirect exchange, according to Emerson’s model of social exchange theory (1981), which may occur within intimate relationships when couples attempt to resolve conflict. Lower levels of relationship satisfaction have been associated with the use of indirect aggression among romantic partners, however this relationship has not be directly observed in a laboratory setting. By asking couples to participate in a conflict resolution scenario, it may be possible to observe the expression of indirect aggression between intimate partners and examine the potential relationship between indirect forms of aggression and self-report levels of relationship satisfaction among intimate couples. The current study used simulated role-plays involving a two-person dyad and a confederate third party to create a conflict scenario to allow for the observation of aggressive expression within intimate relationships. Couples were presented with a role- play scenario involving a conflict resolution task based on literature that outlines typical areas of conflict within relationships (Gottman, 1979; Spanier & Filsinger, 1983). The conflict task and the use of a confederate as a third party represented the social context designed to evoke conflict to assess whether or not partners would use indirect aggressive strategies. If indirect aggression is a socially derived phenomenon, then the theory of social exchange will apply to an individual’s use of indirect aggressive behavior when presented with a conflicted problem-solving task scenario. Relationship satisfaction will be correlated with the expression of indirect aggression among couples in a simulated conflict scenario. The expression of indirect aggressive behavior may depend on the level of potential conflict created by the simulated role-play scenarios, therefore each conflict

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problem-solving task was designed to represent a different level of potential conflict ranging from low to high. Conflict simulations were constructed using an “outsider” position (third person confederate) for partners to align with in each scenario, in order to evoke a moderate amount of conflict and maximize the opportunity for indirect aggressive behavior to occur. The presence of a third party allowed the couple an opportunity to express indirect or covert forms of aggressive behavior by involving the third person in the relationship interaction. Couples’ relationship satisfaction may ultimately be related to whether or not indirect aggressive behavior is expressed within the relationship. The following research questions were addressed in this study.

Research Questions

1. What is the relationship between indirect aggressive behaviors and relationship satisfaction among intimate partners? 2. Is there an interaction effect for the frequency scores of indirect aggressive behavior by type of conflict task and order of the conflict task (high-low versus low-high)? 3. Is there a significant difference in the frequency of couples’ indirect aggressive behaviors between high and low conflict task? 4. Is there a significant difference in the frequency of couples’ indirect aggressive behaviors when the order of the task is varied (high-low versus low-high)?

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Research Hypotheses

1. What is the relationship between indirect aggressive behaviors and relationship satisfaction among intimate partners? It was hypothesized that the use of indirect aggressive behaviors will be significantly and negatively correlated with relationship satisfaction. Couples who use indirect aggression more often will report lower levels of relationship satisfaction than couples that use indirect aggression less often. 2. Is there an interaction effect for the frequency scores of indirect aggressive behavior by type of conflict task and order of the conflict task (high-low versus low-high)? An interaction effect was predicted in the frequency of indirect aggression expressed by couples between the order of task presentation (high-low versus low-high) and across the repeated conflict tasks (high and low). Couples engaging in the high conflict task first were expected to have a higher frequency of indirect aggressive behavior in the low conflict task than those couples that engaged in the low conflict task first. Those couples that engaged in the low conflict resolution task first were expected to have an increase in frequency of indirect aggressive behavior across tasks, from low to high conflict. 3. Is there a significant difference in the frequency of couples’ indirect aggressive behaviors between high and low conflict task? It was hypothesized that the amount of conflict introduced in the role-play scenario (high amounts of conflict versus low amounts of conflict) would significantly affect the frequency of indirect aggressive behaviors used by couples, so that couples will use

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indirect aggressive strategies more frequently during the high conflict resolution task than the low conflict resolution task. 4. Is there a significant difference in the frequency of couples’ indirect aggressive behaviors when the order of the task is varied (high-low versus low-high)? It was hypothesized that the order in which the conflict resolution task was presented to couples (high-low versus low-high) would affect the frequency of indirect aggression expressed by each couple. In other words, the frequency of indirect aggression used by couples who received the high conflict before the low conflict task (high-low order of task presentation) would significantly differ from the frequency scores of indirect aggression used by couples who received the low conflict before the high conflict task (low-high order of task presentation).

Significance of the Study

At present, our understanding of indirect aggression appears limited by an absence of empirical data to support the theoretical propositions suggested in the research literature. Advancements in the scientific investigation of indirect aggressive behaviors are needed to increase awareness regarding the influence of indirect forms of aggression in social interaction. Currently, few measures of indirect aggressive behavior exist in the published literature, and these measures have been constructed for specific populations with limited validity. This is due in part to the covert nature of the behavior itself, and the difficulties represented by a participant’s tendency to report behavior in a socially desirable manner. The observation of indirect aggression using a simulated role-play

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attempts to minimize the effects of social desirability on the empirical study of covert behavior in intimate relationships, and the criteria used to create a measure for the clinical observation of indirect aggression may be useful in future development of formal measure of indirect aggressive behavior. Research findings suggest that the amount of interpersonal conflict experienced by individuals in partnered relationships may be related to the use of aggressive behavior between partners, and that low levels of relationship satisfaction are associated with greater amounts of interpersonal conflict (Gottman, 1979; Markman, 1984). The use of conflict resolution tasks in a simulated role-play setting may act as a vehicle to enhance our understanding of how the expression of indirect forms of aggression may relate to overall relationship satisfaction in intimate couples. The findings of this research may assist future researchers in the study of indirect aggression, as well as clinicians who may deal with indirect aggressive behaviors among couples in couples’ therapy.

Assumptions of the Study

First, with regard to the conflict resolution tasks used in this study, the following assumptions were made: 1) indirect aggressive behavior would be considered a behavioral response option chosen by individuals in interpersonal relationships when presented with a conflict resolution task, 2) the conflict resolutions scenarios created for this study would provide enough provocation to elicit aggressive behavior strategies, and 3) the simulated nature of role-play task in a clinic laboratory setting would allow couples to respond to tasks in a realistic and truthful manner.

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Second, in the observation of indirect aggression, it was assumed that this behavior could be reliably coded by independent raters through the viewing of the videotaped interactions of the couples. Furthermore, it was assumed that the criteria used to measure indirect aggressive behaviors (on the scoring protocol) were true indicators of these behaviors as used in previous research studies (Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz, & Kaukiainen, 1992a; Bjorkqvist, Osterman, & Kaukiainen, 1992; Bjorkqvist & Niemela, 1992; Lagerspetz et al., 1988). Finally, it was also assumed that individuals would respond to the survey questionnaire measuring relationship satisfaction in an honest and truthful manner.

Definition of Terms

Intimate relationship. An intimate relationship is defined as a partnered relationship between two individuals that meets the following criteria: it is romantic in nature, they share the same dwelling, and they have been a committed relationship for at least one year. Indirect aggression . Indirect aggression is defined as behavior aimed at inflicting harm to a target in such a manner that the intent to harm is not recognized, counteraggression is less likely, and if possible the aggressor will remain unidentified (Lagerspetz et al., 1988). Relationship satisfaction. Relationship satisfaction is defined as a partner’s perceived global satisfaction with his/her current relationship as reported on the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (Spanier & Filsinger, 1983).

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Summary and Overview

The purposes of the present study were to: 1) examine the relationship between indirect aggression and overall relationship satisfaction among partnered intimate relationships, 2) explore potential differences in indirect aggression frequency by conflict level, and 3) examine potential differences in indirect aggression frequency by order of conflict task (high-low task presentation versus low-high task presentation) and type of conflict task presented to each couple. In order to observe and measure a covert or unsanctioned social behavior, such as aggression, simulated role-plays representing a conflicted resolution task involving a confederate third person were created. Information gathered in the laboratory simulations may enhance the body of knowledge examining indirect aggressive behavior as a form of social exchange within the intimate relationships of human beings. The research literature examining indirect aggression, social exchange theory, and relationship satisfaction will be reviewed in Chapter II.

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CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

The present study was developed to examine the use of indirect aggressive behavior as a form of social exchange in romantic relationships. The purposes of this study were to assess the relationship between indirect forms of aggression and level of relationship satisfaction among partners in intimate relationships and to explore potential differences in indirect aggression among partners given the type (low versus high conflict) and order (high-low versus low-high) of conflict scenarios. In previous studies, the exploration of indirect aggression has been limited by self-report methods and peer- nomination techniques. The present study was developed to measure indirect aggressive behavior through the direct observation of videotaped role-play scenarios. The review of literature relevant to the present study will be divided into three primary sections. The first section will address the construct of aggression including a history of the research focused on direct forms of aggression, variations of direct aggression, followed by the history and definition of indirect forms of aggression. The second section will explore social exchange theory including definitions and principles of exchange theory, as well as the use of indirect aggression as a form of social exchange. The third section will address relationship satisfaction and will include an examination of the roles of social exchange theory and indirect aggression in relationship satisfaction among intimate couples.

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Aggression

History

The 1960’s proved to be a watershed decade for theory and research developments in aggression with seminal works by Buss (1961, 1971), Berkowitz (1969), Bandura (1973), and Lorenz (1966). Empirical studies were conducted on the forms of aggressive behavior that were observable, and therefore easily measured. Physical acts of aggression were the primary focus of most investigations because these behaviors could be easily replicated using electrical shock or some other form of physical provocation. As a result, direct forms of aggression received the most attention and the emergent body of research typically defined human aggression as direct and/or physical acts. However, as the following decades would show, not all aggressive acts are direct or physical and the development of a singular definition of human aggression became problematic. Theories on human aggression began to address social motivation and the importance of the individual’s interpretation of the aggressive situation as important non- observable variables in aggressive behavior. The focus of many research studies shifted toward the cognitive-attribution processes involved in the aggressive situation and the subsequent behavior. As a result, the operational definitions used to define aggression as “a response that delivers noxious stimuli to another organism” or “attack” (Buss, 1961, p.3) no longer accurately captured the nuances involved in human aggressive behavior. Observations were made to support hypotheses that suggested individuals may judge aggressive behavior based on the act, the victim, the aggressor, and the overall situation. Some studies have found that the perceived intent of the attacker was often a more

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