Denial, Minimization, Blaming, and Intimate Aggression in Dating Partners

Although countering denial, minimization, and externalization of blame is a key component of most interventions for individuals who have been abusive in their intimate relationships, these attributions have only seldom been the focus of empirical investigation. Using a sample of 139 male and female university students, this study examined the associations between self-reported minimizing and blaming attributions and the perpetration of physical, sexual, and psychological aggression against an intimate partner. For men, minimization of conflict and partner blame were associated with self-reported perpetration of intimate partner aggression, even after controlling for socially desirable responding and relationship satisfaction. In contrast, women’s aggression was associated only with partner blame. Discussion focuses on overlap with similar areas of research, gender differences in minimization and blaming, and on potential directions for further empirical work on the associations of intimate aggression, relationship dissatisfaction, and attribution.

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