Self-Regulatory Failure and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration

Eli J. Finkel, C. Nathan DeWall, Erica B. Slotter, Megan Oaten, Vangie A. Foshee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Five studies tested the hypothesis that self-regulatory failure is an important predictor of intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration. Study 1 participants were far more likely to experience a violent impulse during conflictual interaction with their romantic partner than they were to enact a violent behavior, suggesting that self-regulatory processes help individuals refrain from perpetrating IPV when they experience a violent impulse. Study 2 participants high in dispositional self-control were less likely to perpetrate IPV, in both cross-sectional and residualized-lagged analyses, than were participants low in dispositional self-control. Study 3 participants verbalized more IPV-related cognitions if they responded immediately to partner provocations than if they responded after a 10-s delay. Study 4 participants whose self-regulatory resources were experimentally depleted were more violent in response to partner provocation (but not when unprovoked) than were nondepleted participants. Finally, Study 5 participants whose self-regulatory resources were experimentally bolstered via a 2-week training regimen exhibited less violent inclinations than did participants whose self-regulatory resources had not been bolstered. These findings hint at the power of incorporating self-regulation dynamics into predictive models of IPV perpetration. © 2009 American Psychological Association.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReprinted in Psychology of Close Relationships
EditorsHarry T. Reis
Place of PublicationThousand Oaks, CA
PublisherSage Publishing
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)9781446208816
StatePublished - 2012


  • aggression
  • intimate partner violence
  • relationships
  • self-control
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Psychology


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