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Aggress Behav. 2014 Jan;40(1):42-55. doi: 10.1002/ab.21499. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

Testing predictions from the male control theory of men's partner violence.

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Department of Applied Psychology, University of Cumbria, Carlisle, Cumbria, United Kingdom.


The aim of this study was to test predictions from the male control theory of intimate partner violence (IPV) and Johnson's [Johnson, M. P. (1995). Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 282-294] typology. A student sample (Nā€‰=ā€‰1,104) reported on their use of physical aggression and controlling behavior, to partners and to same-sex non-intimates. Contrary to the male control theory, women were found to be more physically aggressive to their partners than men were, and the reverse pattern was found for aggression to same-sex non-intimates. Furthermore, there were no substantial sex differences in controlling behavior, which significantly predicted physical aggression in both sexes. IPV was found to be associated with physical aggression to same-sex non-intimates, thereby demonstrating a link with aggression outside the family. Using Johnson's typology, women were more likely than men to be classed as "intimate terrorists," which was counter to earlier findings. Overall, these results do not support the male control theory of IPV. Instead, they fit the view that IPV does not have a special etiology, and is better studied within the context of other forms of aggression.


controlling behavior; feminist theory; partner violence; physical aggression; same-sex aggression; sex differences

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