Physical aggression and marital dysfunction: A longitudinal analysis

Erika Lawrence*, Thomas N. Bradbury

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Shortly after marriage, 56 couples provided data on physical aggression and other predictors of marital adjustment. At 6-month intervals over the next 4 years, spouses reported on their marital quality and stability. Results indicated that marital dysfunction was more common among aggressive than among nonaggressive couples (70% vs. 38%) and among severely aggressive than among moderately aggressive couples (93% vs. 46%). Aggression remained a reliable predictor of marital outcomes after the authors controlled for stressful events and negative communication. These findings help to refine developmental models of marital dysfunction, which often overlook the role of aggression, and can provide information for prevention programs for marital distress, which typically do not distinguish between aggressive and nonaggressive couples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-154
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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