Observance of Parental Violence and Its Association With Responses of College Students to an Analog Dating Task

Date of Graduation

Spring 1996


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Helen Schartz


The transgenerational hypothesis of family violence predicts that violent parents serve as models for their children. These children may have learned through observation or by direct experience that the use of physical violence is an appropriate way to interact in relationships. To investigate the hypothesis that witnessing parental violence would be associated with dating violence, 241 college students responded to two questionnaires, the Interpersonal Experiences and Attitudes Questionnaire, Form II (IEA-II), and the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS). These measures examine childhood experiences and interparental violence. In addition, the participants responded to the Analog Dating Task (ADT). The ADT is composed of video scenarios depicting dating couples. It was found that witnessing parental violence was associated with the endorsement of physical violence on the ADT when participants were classified using a physical violence subscale from the IEA-II. Being the recipient of severe physical discipline was associated with endorsement of physical violence on the ADT when participants were classified using the CTS. There was also a significant interaction between type of scene on the ADT and gender. The results of this study support the hypothesis that the observation of parental violence is associated with the propensity to use physical violence in dating relationships.

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© Nora Kay Wildhaber