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Psychological and behavioural typologies of men who assault their female partners Bodnarchuk, Mark Anton

Abstract

Since the 1970s, there have been numerous studies of the personality disorders, and psychological and behavioural characteristics of men who assault their female partners. The goal of these studies has been to describe and better understand potential underlying processes that result in female partner assault. These studies have revealed that men who assault their female partners are not a homogeneous group. They appear to be comprised of subgroups without personality disorders, those with different personality disorders, and differ on psychological and behavioural characteristics. The literature most strongly supports the theoretical typology o f Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994), yet this theoretical typology requires further validation research. This thesis was an empirical test of this typology. The typology was tested by collecting quantitative data on personality disorders and psychological and behavioural characteristics in a large sample of men who assault their female partners, and used statistical procedures to test whether the hypothesized subgroups existed in the sample. The statistical procedure used to test the presence of subgroups was cluster analysis, which can derive groups of individuals within a sample. The differences between possible subgroups identified in the cluster analysis were further tested using standard statistical procedures (discriminant function analysis and analysis of variance). The results of these procedures were compared to the Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) theoretical typology and previous research. The findings of the current study failed to support the Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) theoretical typology. Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) hypothesized the population of spousal assaulters was comprised of the family-only (50%), the dysphoric-borderline (25%), and the generally violent-antisocial (25%) spousal assaulter. The current study found three groups of spousal assaulters: Low-Level Antisocial (66%), Moderate Pathological (21%), and Severe Pathological (13%). These three groups showed consistent increases across groups in the average number and percentages of personality disorders from the Low Level Antisocial (LLA) to the Moderate Pathological (MP) and Severe Pathological (SP) groups. The increases in the average number and percentages of personality disorders were paralleled by significant increases from the L L A to the M P and SP group in five o f the eight external variables Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) hypothesized spousal assaulters vary upon. The reasons for failure to support the Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) typology were differences between the current study and the Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) typology on (a) personality disorder types, (b) psychological and behavioural variables, and (c) psychopathology. The current study findings were similar to some previous and more current research findings of (a) some groups of generalized psychopathology, (b) some groups that include a combination o f antisocial and borderline personality disorders, (c) some groups that include narcissistic personality disorder, and (d) some groups that are best described as inbetween the Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) family-only and generally violent-antisocial groups. Some of the differences between the current study findings and previous typology research appear to be related to a focus in research on attempting to validate the Holtzworth- Munroe and Stuart (1994) typology. Research prior and subsequent to the development of their model had found the presence of other personality disorders (e.g., narcissistic), yet these findings have not been incorporated into typology models. This is prudent, given that there has not been a great deal o f research on typologies o f men who assault their female partners. Some authors have speculated that differences in typology study findings may be related to differences in study samples (e.g., Gortner, Gollan, & Jacobson, 1997). Due to this possibility, numerous comparisons were made between the current study and previous research on study sample characteristics. Methodological and interpretive issues were reviewed. Although the current study included the highest proportion of First Nations research participants (24.2%) compared to previous research, this group was not different than the rest of the research participants, with one exception. Their higher average number of previous convictions may be related to racial bias in the reporting of crime. A number of future research directions were suggested. The most prominent recommendation is for a large study including the range of samples (e.g., spousal assault treatment and community recruited) that may clarify the differences in previous research and the current study findings.

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