Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Motivational interviewing as a targeted prevention approach for physically aggressive dating couples
by Woodin, Erica Margaret, Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 2007, 114; 3334947
Abstract (Summary)

Motivational interviewing is a brief non-confrontational intervention designed to enhance motivation to reduce harmful behavior (Miller & Rollnick, 2002). The purpose of this study was to conduct the first trial of motivational interviewing as a targeted prevention for partner aggression. Participants were 50 college dating couples between 18 and 25 years-old who reported at least one act of male-to-female mild physical aggression in the preceding three months. All couples completed a two-hour assessment session. Half of all couples were then randomly assigned to receive a two-hour individualized motivational feedback session, and the remaining couples received brief, generalized, non-motivational feedback.

Results indicated that the motivational feedback intervention led to significant reductions in mild physical aggression, harmful alcohol use, and acceptance of female psychological aggression compared to the brief feedback condition. Reductions in physical aggression were predicted by reductions in psychological aggression as well as by reduced acceptance of male and female psychological aggression. Reduction in physical aggression predicted improved investment in the relationship across treatment conditions, and was also related to less anxiety and greater optimism about the future of the relationship for couples in the motivational feedback condition only. Levels of physical aggression did not predict relationship dissolution, but lower commitment to the relationship by females and higher motivation to change by males did predict dissolution.

Across feedback conditions, reductions in psychological and physical aggression were predicted by reductions in beliefs about the normativeness of male psychological aggression and female physical aggression and decreased acceptance of female physical aggression. Further, reductions in psychological aggression were predicted by decreased beliefs in the normativeness of female psychological aggression, increased need and want to change aggressive behaviors, and decreased beliefs about the ability to change. There were no significant direct mediations between feedback condition and changes in aggression using these potential mechanisms of change, although reductions in the acceptability of psychological aggression by both males and females seemed to serve as a link between feedback condition and other mechanisms. Therapists higher in global empathy, reflection to question ratios, and lower in use of closed questions during the motivational feedback sessions led to greater reductions in physical aggression.

The current study was the first trial of motivational interviewing as a targeted prevention for dating aggression. The results of this study suggest that motivational interviewing is a promising approach to reducing dating aggression and improving relationship functioning and individual well-being.

Indexing (document details)
School: State University of New York at Stony Brook
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 69/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Clinical psychology, Criminology
Keywords: Alcohol abuse, College students, Dating couples, Intimate partner violence, Motivational interviewing, Prevention, Therapy
Publication Number: 3334947
ISBN: 978-0-549-87839-1
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